NICE’s role is to provide guidance and advice to help improve outcomes for people using the NHS, social care services and public health. It aims to do this by working in collaboration with health professionals, social care practitioners, allied health professionals, academics and representatives from industry and NHS staff.
NICE aims to help health care professionals provide the right evidenced-based treatment to patients at the right time and in the right place.
For patients the right decision is that maximises their well-being. Technology appraisals guidance assesses the clinical and cost effectiveness of health technologies such as new pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical products, devices and diagnostic agents.
Meanwhile, NICE guidelines aim to make evidence-based recommendations on a range of topics including diagnosing, preventing and managing specific clinical conditions. Other forms of guidance include interventional procedures such as laser treatments for eye problems.
NICE recruits committees to develop and update its guidance. All committees include experienced professionals with knowledge of a particular topic within health or social care. Professional members also bring experience and technical skills to help develop guidelines. Every guideline group also has lay members and patients who can help change the process.
It is very important that each guideline development group has two or three GPs with special interest in that area. The group will develop quality standards - concise sets of statements with accompanying metrics designed to drive and measure priority quality improvements within a particular area of care. GPs who are members of the group can say whether the quality standards are deliverable in primary care.
My experience of NICE
I was a part of the guideline development group for peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and endometriosis. I have been a GP member of NICE QS for the last three years.
Being a GP member and contributing towards the quality standard was very rewarding. Meeting with professionals who are experts in that particular field, plus learning and understanding the methodology relating to various papers published improved my confidence and skills in this area.
After being involved in developing the PAD pathway, I set up a community PAD clinic in Oldham, which helped to lower amputation rates.
It does take a lot of time to read and critically appraise the papers – and arranging surgery cover to take on this work can be a challenge for a small practice. Because of poor locum reimbursement and the shortage of GPs, it is becoming increasingly difficult to become involved, or remain involved.
However, I enjoyed taking on this role and I believe it is an excellent opportunity for GPs to become involved in a different aspect of healthcare, develop new skills and make a difference.
How NICE recruits GP members
If you are interested in becoming involved with developing NICE guidance, current vacancies and further advice about joining are listed on its website here.
The vacancies will set out which guidance NICE is developing and reviewing and the period over which this work will be carried out. More detailed information for applicants for each post will explain the role description, the specific time commitment involved for those selected to join the committee and the selection process.
As a GP the most suitable committees to become involved with are likely to be those developing or reviewing clinical guidance. Committee members are expected to attend all of the day-long meetings during the guideline development and read research and documents in between these meetings.
In order to apply you will need to send a short CV, a cover letter explaining how you meet the criteria in the person (i.e. whether you have undertaken done any research in this area, published a paper, or are a GP with a special interest) and a declaration of interest.
If you have a question or would like to speak to someone at NICE, the team is exceptionally good and you can ask as many questions as you want.
NICE will reimburse locum backfill for GP committee members if this is required up to a maximum of £600 a day or £300 for a half day.
- Dr Anita Sharma is a GP in Oldham, Greater Manchester