Nearly six in 10 (58%) of over 500 GPs reported having difficulties in trying to access NICE guidelines which were relevant to them, while just a third (35%) described locating the information as straightforward.
The findings come just two years after NICE scrapped its quick reference guides, a move GPs warned would increase workload and undermine GPs' ability to keep up to date with advice.
Some GPs described the process as ‘frustratingly difficult’ and many said they had turned to accessing the information using summaries and e-learning modules from other sources, such as GPonline Education.
One GP in England said they used guidance from the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) instead, as they are ‘often better written’.
Guidelines were criticised for being ‘too long and complex’ and ‘far too numerous’. Many criticised the demise of quick reference guides.
NICE guidance 'irrelevant'
Recent changes to NICE’s website also came under fire for making the process of finding and viewing specific guidelines more complicated.
One GP respondent said: ‘I don't think NICE guidelines are that relevant. They aren't designed for real life.’ Another said they were ‘often beyond our capacity to provide’.
But NICE director of clinical practice Professor Mark Baker said NICE was committed to supporting GPs in the implementation of its guidance.
He said: ‘We produce a variety of tools, such as monthly primary care-focused e-newsletters and online education tools, that can help general practice access our recommendations easily.
‘Our clinical knowledge summaries, of which there are more than 330, are also useful for GPs: each one summarises the current evidence and practical guidance on best practice for primary care practitioners on specific conditions, and our field team is currently meeting with all CCGs to discuss how best to support GPs in their implementation of NICE guidance.’