Professor Haslam said that it is important that the NHS and social care services continue to maintain public trust, and this is where NICE fits in.
“To produce our guidance, the best evidence on a topic is gathered and assessed, an independent committee of experts discusses the data, hears from other experts – including patients and service users – deliberates over the topic in hand and reaches a consensus view on their recommendations. At this point, we seek views on the draft through consultation, then the committee agrees the final guidance.
“But to maintain trust, we have to make sure that we continue to provide the best service to people. We must strive to improve. There are real challenges in this. Not least because of constrained budgets.
“Patients are facing different problems: Long-term health conditions – rather than easily curable illnesses – take 70 per cent of the health service budget.
“At the same time many people want to be more informed and involved with their own care. They want to be supported as they strive to live healthier lives and in making decisions about the medicines they take.
“This is one of the challenges identified in the NHS’ 5 year forward view.
“It also says the country is “too diverse for a ‘one size fits all’ care model to apply everywhere”. This is another challenge where NICE will have a key role: local answers to challenges in delivering healthcare must be supported with the best available evidence and knowledge to ensure that unacceptable variations in care are eradicated or prevented from developing.
“And tapping into the resources offered by NICE can bring real financial benefits. We are currently working to flag better how people can use NICE guidance to save money and improve care.
“So NICE guidelines give a population-level steer on what the most clinically and cost effective ways are to treat different diseases and conditions. Nationally, the guidance helps the NHS make sure that it’s getting the best value for taxpayers’ money.
“But it is essential to remember that on an individual level, our recommendations might not always be appropriate for individual patients. The guidance is not intended to replace a doctor’s clinical judgement or the joint decisions they make with their patients about their specific and individual needs.
“Our job at NICE is to ensure clinicians and social care professionals are supported to give the very best care to people. Equally we understand that each discussion between a patient and their clinicians is unique.
“NICE guidance is a gold-standard which professionals should take very seriously. But the role of the clinician is to interpret our guidance together with their training and experience in the interests of the patient before them.”