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A faulty production line

NICE chair: ‘I want to go back to square one with GPs’

Exclusive The chair of NICE has pledged to go ‘back to square one’ to address GPs’ concerns over guidelines, following a barrage of criticisms from the profession.

Professor David Haslam, who has been at the helm at NICE for the past two years, said he was fully committed to listening to grassroots GPs and is now approaching leading representatives of the profession to head up a new consultative body.

The move comes after GPs expressed disquiet about a number of new NICE recommendations, including the decision to widen statin use in spite of protests from GP leaders, as well as a series of negative headlines in the national media – such as the call from a senior NICE official for GPs to be referred to the GMC for over-prescribing antibiotics.

Speaking to Pulse in an exclusive interview at the recent NICE annual conference, Professor Haslam said he was ‘committed to engaging with representatives of real, frontline GPs’.

He said: ‘I want to take this back to square one: what’s the problem, what is bugging GPs about the way NICE does things, how can we get it better? I’m expecting big things from that.

Professor Haslam insisted these controversies formed part of the usual consultative process in developing guidelines – and that NICE was consistently reviewing and taking on board the views of GPs.

He said: ‘I don’t see it as criticism. I see it as part of the process – it’s exactly what NICE tries to do.’

However, he conceded that misleading headlines had come out of the launch of NICE guidelines ‘on a number of occasions recently’.

And he said that the new GP consultative body would seek to tackle these issues and bring NICE back in line with GPs’ best interests - although he declined to name who would be involved.

Professor Haslam said: ‘I haven’t got a name for it yet, but initially it will be an informal meeting to discuss the best way to tackle the sort of issues that Pulse has been so effective at flagging up.

‘I am very aware that general practice is under a lot of pressure at the moment. NICE is seen as part of the establishment, and that causes real problems. [But] what NICE is here for is to produce the best possible advice to help people deliver high-quality care.’

Read the full interview here

Readers' comments (15)

  • Difficult to see how NICE can regain GP trust whilst Dr Haslam remains.

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  • Great! Square one so we can climb a few ladders and slide down the snakes all over again.

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  • Vinci Ho

    The problem with an establishment so often is not necessarily a problem of determination of the leader(s) on the top of the pyramid, problem arises from the middle levels where people are bogged by bureaucracy and political correctness , which even the leaders cannot control ......

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  • The generals in their ivory towers are planning to try another tactic to win the war with the poor tommies in the front line ready togo over the top in another offensive.Unlike the meat grinder of world ward one,you can't conscript people into general practice as they can see the attritional war vernal practice and ultimately the medical profession is engaged in.Still feels that the toffs are looking down on the plebs and wondering why we won't do as were told.Up the revolution!

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  • mmm... problems with not enough money to spend on the nhs. do you either;

    a) spend billions on quangos such as NICE,CQC,NHSE etc who don't see patients and add layers of bureaucracy for no proven benefit?


    b) spend it on front-line staff who actually see patients?

    it doesn't matter as soon we will have an NHS depleted of doctors so patients can go ask the quangos for help.

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  • Dr Haslam is an honest man whose heart is in the right place. He is a very experIenced GP and if anybody can both understand and fix the problems at the interface between NICE and GPs then he is the man.

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  • Dr Haslam has his heart and his head in the right right place but he does not control the anal sphincter of the NHS, which is jobsworth managers who have no idea of the real world.
    Which is why they escaped to the cushion of CCG/NHSE/NICE/PHE etc.
    He will not be able to show real leadership unless he dumps a whole lot of them, which he cannot do because they are protected by their contracts.
    Failure beagats failure

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  • Noble intent but will not work. The system is based on putting one guy in the forefront on a good salary and then making him do what the establishment wants done. Listening exercises are after all exercises- flexing tympanic membranes and a lot of wind that passes through leaving the sensors unruffled but only momentarily.

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  • Cut the layers of expensive, time wasting, doctor torturing bureaucratic nonsense.
    If someone is finally recognising the problems they have been doling out to doctors and the NHS and the levels of unpopularity these regimes are bringing about, that is good. Perhaps someone may be worried about this or/and the future prospects of becoming Squire One and getting a gong.

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  • A few years ago I was present at the RCGP conference when the then chairman of NICE (Professor Sir Michael Rawlins) received rapturous applause by instructing GPs NOT to adhere to NICE guidance.

    I'm not sure what happened since....

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