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18. Professor Sir David Haslam

The chair of NICE has had a testing year, steering the guidelines body through challenges to its guidance and being commissioned to deliver a national report on prescription drug dependence.

Under Professor Sir David Haslam’s leadership, in 2018 the body responded to criticism of its adult depression guidelines – for being based on out-of-date evidence – by announcing it would re-consult and draw up another version.

Meanwhile, NICE will produce new guidance for GPs and other health professionals on prescription drug dependence and how to manage withdrawal by October 2021, at the request of the Department of Health and Social Care.

Sir David, who is also the former chair of the RCGP, will step down from his role at NICE later this year but he has set the wheels in motion on major guidance that will affect GPs for years to come.

But his favourite moment over the last 12 months was being told his MRI scan was clear ‘at the end of a nightmare few months of radiotherapy and chemotherapy’, he says.

Sir David adds that ‘more than ever’ his wife and family deserve his thanks for supporting him ‘through a challenging year for all of us.’

Sir David’s previously practised as a GP in Cambridgeshire for 36 years – but when asked about his forthcoming plans, he remains flexible: ‘Who knows what’s next?’ he says.

Why influential: Has huge influence in clinical guidance

What he says: ‘A couple of years ago, I received an honour at one of the medical Royal Colleges and was somewhat embarrassed by the effusive eulogy given by the presenter. As he finished, I overheard my wife say to her neighbor: “That’s all well and good, but you try living with him.”’

Random fact: Appears on a Pink Floyd album – between tracks 1 and 2 of the 1969 Pink Floyd album Ummagumma, recorded live in a small Birmingham club, he is one of the people cheering