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NICE must be ‘much more relevant’ to GPs, says Haslam

Incoming NICE chair Professor David Haslam has admitted the organisation needs to become ‘much more relevant to GPs’ - but says this will be helped by new work on guidelines for patients with multiple conditions.

In an exclusive interview with Pulse, former RCGP president Professor Haslam, who will begin his role as chairman of NICE from April, agreed that the organisation’s focus on single conditions meant its guidelines were not always relevant to GPs.

He said: ‘I’ve been struck for a long time NICE needs to be much more relevant to the average general practitioner.

‘The simple fact is most of NICE’s work in the past, like most of the organisations in the NHS, is focused on single conditions, and we now need to be very much more into the world of multiple conditions. NICE is beginning to work on this. When they do that, it’ll be much more relevant to GPs.’

His comments followed from a study which found fewer than a quarter of NICE recommendations are based on studies that are relevant to primary care, with the relevance of some guidelines as low as 2% for GPs.

He added that he would make work on including advice on co-morbidities in guidelines a priority for NICE when takes over as chair.

He said: ‘You only have to think of the sort of patient that every GP will have, the 75 year old with hypertension, diabetes, coronary artery disease, chronic kidney disease and depression. If you put those together, and look at the complexity of working out how drugs work, it’s breath-taking.’

He added: ‘But we are beginning to work on it. It’s something I recognise as an absolute priority because of the real world that our patients live in. In the past the NHS has looked at health as: “You’re well, you get ill, and then you get fixed.” But the real-world now is: “You’re well, and then you get ill, and then you live with a whole bunch of problems.”

‘Our guidance needs to be quite different to take that guidance into account.’

While he acknowledged that funding was a problem, he denied that NICE guidelines were divorced from ‘real-world’ factors, as cost appraisals are included along with the clinical advice.

Pulse Live: 30 April - 1 May, Birmingham

NICE chair Professor David Haslam will chair Pulse Live, Pulse’s new two-day annual conference for GPs, practice managers and primary care managers, will cover the latest developments in telehealth.

Pulse Live offers practical advice on key clinical and practice business topics, as well as an opportunity to debate the future of the profession, and a top range of speakers includes NICE chair designate Professor David Haslam, GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey and the Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell MP, chair of the House of Commons health committee.

To find out more and book your place, please click here


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