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GPs to be given greater say on NICE guidelines as ‘reference panel’ launched

NICE chiefs are calling on frontline GPs to sign up to a new ‘reference panel’, in a bid to increase their say in how clinical guidelines are developed in future.

The panel will be run like an online forum – co-moderated by Wiltshire GP Dr Julian Treadwell, vice-chair of the RCGP’s over-diagnosis group, and Dr James Larcombe, a practising GP in Yorkshire – to help as many GPs get involved as possible.

It comes after NICE chair and former GP Professor David Haslam decided to set up a body to consult with the profession, after years of wrangling over controversial guidelines changes and a decline in GPs’ availability to sit on guidelines committees.

NICE said it will email questions out for GPs to respond with their feedback, to give them the opportunity to ‘tell us if our guidelines need improving, we should produce guidance on a particular topic, a guideline doesn’t answer the questions which really matter to you or your patients, [or] our recommendations could be clearer’.

‘Our panel moderators, James Larcombe and Julian Treadwell are both practising GPs. They will help us to make the best use of your comments and keep you informed about their impact,’ NICE said.

It comes after clashes with the profession over a series of NICE decisions, such as the move to put millions more low-risk people on statins for primary prevention, threats to get GPs referred to the GMC for over-use of antibiotics, ‘bonkers’ changes to advice on drug therapies for diabetes and the introduction of a battery of sophisticated and expensive tests for diagnosing asthma amid laims GPs were massively overdiagnosing the condition.

Professor Mark Baker, director of NICE’s centre for guidelines, said: ‘NICE really care about making our guidelines as helpful and meaningful as possible for the people who are going to use them.

‘This initiative aims to gather the collective wisdom of GPs on the ground who might otherwise not be heard.

How NICE panel has come about

As reported by Pulse, a form of consultative ‘GP advisory board’ has been in the pipeline for the past two years, following disquiet over the way some of NICE’s guidelines were being handled.

GPs have raised concerns about the feasibility and evidence behind some of NICE’s proposed and published guidelines, including its decision to lower the risk threshold for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease to a 10-year risk of 10% and subsequent push to incentivise GPs to treat patients with statins at this risk level – something NICE subsequently admitted should have been considered more carefully.

In addition, there have been objections to the way guidelines have been communicated to the media, with claims around asthma misdiagnosis branded ‘dangerous’ and threats that GPs should be reported to the GMC for overprescribing antibiotics leading to urgent talks with the GPC.


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