Scrapped NICE guides 'may hit workload'

NICE's decision to scrap 'quick reference guides' that summarise its guidance has sparked concern among GPs who fear it will increase workload and lead to fewer clinicians reading new advice.

Abandoning the guides in favour of a new interactive online service will make it harder for GPs to easily digest new guidelines and waste their time, GP locums in West Sussex told GP.

But the RCGP backed NICE over its decision, saying GPs 'will be able to adapt'.

GP locum Dr Louise Cockram said: 'Their job isn't just to churn out guidelines, but should also be about putting it out there in a format that doctors are most likely to read and refer to.'

Quick reference guides offered a simple overview of a clinical guideline, including recent updates. NICE halted production of these and clinical knowledge summaries last year.

Instead, GPs must now choose between the new NICE Pathways website, which presents guidance as an interactive flowchart; web or PDF versions of the NICE guideline; or the full version of a guideline, which can run to hundreds of pages.

Dr Cockram said: 'The pathways can be useful as a resource, but aren't easy to look at to see what has changed from a previous guideline, nor to get a good overview of the situation.'

She said referring to the guidelines themselves would take longer.

'GPs have very limited time to keep up to date. If it takes every GP several minutes longer, overall it is a lot of wasted time.'

A spokesman for NICE said it would have been a 'waste of resources' to continue to produce the quick reference guides alongside the new pathways site.

He added: ‘If someone wants to see just a list of the recommendations in isolation, these are included in the NICE guideline.'

RCGP chairwoman Dr Clare Gerada said: 'While change can be disconcerting, GPs are adaptable and used to adjusting the way they work to suit the evolving needs of their patients, so I have no doubt that they will be able to adapt.'

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