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National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

Volume 685: debated on Monday 9 October 2006

My honourable friend the Minister of State, Department of Health (Andy Burnham) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The department has consulted on proposed changes to the process for the selection of topics for the work programme of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

55 responses were received from a wide variety of organisations, including patient and professional groups, healthcare professionals, industry and the NHS. An analysis of the responses has been undertaken and we have reached the following decisions:

the administration of the early stages of the topic selection process will be the responsibility of NICE. Responsibility for the administration of the later stages of the process will remain with the department;

the criteria used in the selection of topics will be revised, with a single set of criteria used for the selection of both clinical and public health topics;

there will be wider and better representation of the NHS and public health throughout the process, to help ensure that the topics being proposed represent the needs of professionals and their patients. This representation will be secured via the new panels which will replace the Advisory Committee on Topic Selection (ACTS); and

finally the timelines for the selection of topics will be reduced. This will mean that clinical topics which are a priority issue for the NHS will be referred to NICE sooner.

Full details of the consultation responses and the analysis of the comments have been placed in the Library and are available on the department’s website at

A new programme of work is being established by NICE to help the NHS identify and stop ineffective interventions. This will potentially allow the NHS to reinvest millions of pounds on drugs and other treatments that improve patient care.

The three products that NICE will be developing are:

commissioning guides: these will help NHS commissioners to make the case for moving to concordance with NICE guidance and shift resources away from ineffective care;

recommendation reminders: these will highlight recommendations from published NICE guidance which reduce ineffective practice; and

specific guidance aimed at reducing ineffective practice: this guidance will use existing methodologies to give advice on the use of technologies or approaches to care currently employed by the NHS where evidence of effectiveness that exists suggests that it is a poor use of resources.

NICE expects to issue the first commissioning guides and recommendation reminders in autumn 2006 and the first guidance on ineffective treatments in 2007.