It has not been the easiest year for Professor David Haslam. As chair of NICE he presided over a period where the guideline-forming body seemed more remote than ever from the reality of general practice.
This year, key guidelines on asthma, cancer and diabetes have been criticised by experts and grassroots GPs as ‘bonkers’, dangerous’ and ‘overwhelming’.
Recommendations that GPs should be reported for ‘inappropriate’ antibiotic prescribing have gone down like a bucket of cold sick with the profession.
But Professor Haslam is a canny chap. Formerly a GP in Ramsey, Cambridgeshire, and past president of the BMA and the RCGP, he has a deep understanding of what GPs have to cope with.
He powerfully argued at Pulse Live this year that NICE was committed to ensuring that its guidelines were based on the best evidence, and that they were only meant to be guidance – and not rules for GPs to follow.
And there are signs that NICE – at some level – is beginning to get the message that GPs were losing faith in the regulator.
It took the unusual step of withdrawing and resissuing a new draft of its diabetes guideline after the original was criticised for recommending the little-known repaglinide as an alternative first-line treatment in people who cannot tolerate metformin.
And it performed a complete U-turn on its proposal for a 10% risk statins QOF indicator, saying it required more piloting.
Pulse also revealed that the institute is looking at forming a GP advisory body to feed into the guideline-forming process – something that would be a welcome development.
Professor Haslam told Pulse that he was working on ‘the whole breadth of NICE’s activities, with a particular intention to be as supportive as we can be to GPs’.
He added that NICE was working on issues around multimorbidity and would be
publishing its first guidance in social care in the autumn.
He says: ‘[This will] encourage coordination between health and social care which I believe will make a real difference to people’s lives and the care they get.’