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.’