National Institiue for Health and Clinical Excellence

Annual Review - 2012/2013

Raising standards in guidance production

Accreditation assesses the quality of the processes guidance producers use to develop their guidance. Its purpose is to raise standards in guidance production and enable users to recognise sources of information of the highest quality, through the use of the Accreditation Mark.

The NICE Accreditation Programme began in 2009. To date, 54 guidance development processes have gained accreditation; 17 of these in 2012/2013.

Having been accredited for the process it uses to develop its practice guidelines, the College of Occupational Therapists became the first allied health professional organisation to be awarded accreditation by NICE.

On 31 March 2013, Professor David Haslam, Chair of the NICE Accreditation Advisory Committee since its inception, stepped down from the post to take up his role as Chair of NICE. He will be replaced by Martin Underwood, Professor of Primary Care Research and Head of the Division of Health Sciences at Warwick Medical School.

The British HIV Association

The British HIV Association (BHIVA) acts as a national advisory body to professionals and other organisations and provides a national platform for HIV care. The Association publishes a range of clinical guidelines covering the treatment and management of HIV infection and associated co-morbidities to help promote and monitor standards of care.

In July 2012, BHIVA received NICE accreditation for its processes to produce UK national guidelines.

Professor Martin Fisher, Consultant Physician in HIV/Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM), Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals and Chair of BHIVA Guidelines believes that joining the accreditation programme has improved BHIVA’s guidance.

"We set out to achieve NICE accreditation as we realised there were areas in our existing guidance development process that needed refining. Working towards accreditation gave us the chance to review our processes, look at other options and methods we could use and receive suggestions and advice from the accreditation team.

"Attaining NICE accreditation would show that our guidelines are robust and evidence-based. Being able to demonstrate that we produce guidelines to rigorous processes recognised by NICE would also be very useful when negotiating with commissioners and others.

"In the current and future financial climate prescribing choices will be challenged, and quite rightly. Prescribing following guidelines developed to a process approved by NICE should help clinicians and BHIVA members avoid being challenged more than necessary.

"We already had a reasonable guidance development process in place, but the NICE Accreditation Programme gave us a really good chance to look at what we were doing and make it substantially better.

"Achieving NICE accreditation actually gives guidance producers a more robust, credible and evidence-based guideline. We're confident that the accredited process we've introduced in terms of the way we gather, appraise and assess the evidence is far more robust than some other guidelines out there and we can demonstrate that.

"We now have a very clear implementation policy - which the NICE process encourages. We have developed patient friendly versions of the guidelines, we are developing a slide kit for clinicians, pharmacists and nurses to promote dissemination of the new guidelines and encourage implementation.

"We have also developed a 'best of 5 questions' on the BHIVA website, this can be used to gain continuing professional development (CPD) points - again, serving as a method of increasing dissemination and implementation. So there are a number of ways in which we can try to ensure the guidelines are implemented and that the patients get the most up-to-date care."

Read more about how BHIVA are benefiting from NICE accreditation.

NICE accreditation gave us a really good chance to look at what we were doing and to make it substantially better