The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) uses evidence of which treatment and support work best for patients and service users to provide authoritative guidance to the public health, NHS and social care systems.

NICE’s role is to improve outcomes for people using the NHS and other public health and social care services. It does this by:

  • Producing evidence based guidance and advice for health, public health and social care practitioners;
  • Developing quality standards and performance metrics for those providing and commissioning health, public health and social care services; and
  • Providing a range of informational services for commissioners, practitioners and managers across the spectrum of health and social care.

Evidence-based guidance and advice

NICE guidance takes several forms:

  • NICE guidelines: evidence-based recommendations on a wide range of topics, from preventing and managing specific conditions, improving health and managing medicines in different settings, to providing social care to adults and children, and planning broader services and interventions to improve the health of communities.
  • Technology appraisals guidance: these assess the clinical and cost-effectiveness of health technologies, such as new pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical products, but also include procedures, devices and diagnostic agents.
  • Medical technologies and diagnostics guidance: these help to ensure that the NHS is able to adopt clinically and cost-effective technologies rapidly and consistently.
  • Interventional procedures guidance: recommends whether interventional procedures, such as laser treatments for eye problems or deep brain stimulation for chronic pain are effective and safe enough for use in the NHS.
  • Quality standards are concise sets of statements, with accompanying metrics, designed to drive and measure priority quality improvements within a particular area of care.

Information services

NICE commissions and provides access to a range of information services to ensure that health and social care professionals have quick and easy access to reliable information. This includes:

  • NICE Evidence: this is an online search engine that identifies relevant clinical, public health and social care guidance. As part of the service, NICE also provides access to information content purchased on behalf of the NHS, such as bibliographic databases and professional journals.
  • British National Formulary and British National Formulary for Children: these are published jointly by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the British Medical Association. For a number of years, NICE has been responsible for providing NHS access to these publications, including recently through the use of smartphone apps.
  • Medicines and prescribing support: information and new pharmaceutical products and information about the use of particular products outside the scope of their licensed indications. This includes Medicines practice guidelines to support best practice in medicines management, including practical advice on developing and maintaining local medicines formularies.

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