GPs and patients must choose when to ignore NICE advice, says Haslam

NICE guidance 'may not be appropriate' for every patient, and it is important that GPs talk through treatment options with patients, NICE chairman Professor David Haslam has said.

Speaking at the NICE annual conference in Liverpool on Tuesday, Professor Haslam told delegates that although NICE guidance represents the ‘gold standard’ of treatment, it is not meant to be prescriptive and should not replace a doctor’s clinical judgment.

He said the health and social care system in the UK had changed ‘significantly’ since NICE was founded in 1999. Doctors of today are facing new challenges as multimorbidity and long-term conditions become rife in the population, he said.

NICE will play a pivotal role in helping doctors tackle these issues, with new guidance on multimorbidity due next year.

Professor Haslam said: ‘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.

NICE GP guidance

‘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 judgment 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 clinician 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.’

Photo: JH Lancy

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