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Have your say on social values of NICE guidance


30 November, 2007  

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has today launched a public consultation on the social values that underpin its guidance.

The issues discussed in its draft report range from the often controversial: “should social background or lifestyle choices ever influence the decisions that NICE makes?” to matters such as: “what sort of recommendations should NICE make when the evidence is weak?”

These are some of the social value judgements that NICE might need to consider when making decisions about the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of interventions.

From today and for the next three months NICE wants people to debate the issues by leaving comments on its website.

It said that all comments received would be considered by the NICE board.

The draft second edition of Social Value Judgements: Principles for the Development of NICE Guidance will give advice only to the independent advisory bodies producing NICE guidance and those designing guidance production processes.

Importantly, it is not guidance for the NHS in general, nor other bodies with public health responsibilities. Decisions about individual patient care remain with the health care professionals working across the NHS, and the professionals responsible for the public health of individuals and communities.

However, the document will be of interest to the wider public and the Institute’s many stakeholders as it will help them to understand the social values that underpin NICE guidance.

Professor Peter Littlejohns, Clinical and Public Health Director at NICE, said: “The second edition of Social Value Judgements will be used to help those developing NICE guidance to make difficult decisions in the most consistent way.

“The draft document sets out how specific ethical and social issues might need to be taken into account when NICE develops its clinical and public health guidance.

“It also describes the principles that NICE should follow in designing the processes it uses to develop guidance. The draft gives an interesting insight into what NICE takes account of when coming to its decisions, including considerations on how cost-effectiveness analysis informs decision-making.

“We look forward to receiving comments via the website on the draft second edition of Social Value Judgements.”

The views of NICE’s Citizens Council have played a significant role in preparing the second edition of Social Value Judgements. The Citizens Council is made up of 30 ordinary members of the public, reflecting the demographics of people in England and Wales.

The Council meets twice a year to discuss and debate challenging topics such as patient safety and health inequalities, and their views are published in reports which inform the broad social values that NICE should adopt.

As well as these new Citizens Council reports, the draft second edition has been prepared using a range of other new information provided by technical experts, academics and the public.

NICE