Nurses are in a prime position to hold decision makers to account as NICE looks for guidance on how conflicts of interest are dealt with.
A draft policy, open to consultation until 18 September, outlines arrangements for members of advisory committees to declare their interests and how NICE will handle any conflicts.
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The proposal currently includes rules establishing a ‘clearer distinction’ between interests which must be declares and those which bring about a conflict. Once finalised, it will replace the existing policy that was agreed in 2014.
NICE deputy chief executive Professor Gillian Leng said: ‘Ensuring that everyone who works with us can trust our decisions and has confidence in what we do is essential to our work. To maintain people’s trust we need to manage interests and identify potential conflicts of interests effectively.
‘We need to make sure that members of committees declare relevant interests so that any possible competing interests or risks of bias can be identified. This is an essential part of our process to develop robust guidance of the highest quality.’
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More explicit guidance on when an interest is ‘specific’ to the matters under discussion and therefore gives rise to greater risk of a conflict of interest and more detailed direction on the points in the guidance development process that interests should be declared are included.
There is also more explicit guidance on when private practice and other fee paid work should be declared and the impact on an individual’s involvement in guidance development.
Representations on the policy will be submitted by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) who have urged nurses to also get involved.
An RCN spokesperson said: ‘The RCN will respond to the consultation and we encourage our members to join various NICE committees to put their views forward. It is important that people in positions of judgement or power ensure their private interests do not compete with their professional duties.
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‘In order to ensure transparency and probity, we expect everyone involved in the development of national guidance, and who make recommendations for NICE on care and treatment, should declare any interests that could appear to result in personal benefit.’
The new policy will be implemented in early 2018.