Getting involved with NICE
Bren McInerney, Health Involvement Lead at Barton and Tredworth Community Trust, Gloucestershire, talks about his work as a lay representative for NICE. He was part of a programme development group (PDG) that produced guidance on how to encourage people to be physically active (‘Physical activity and the environment', NICE public health guidance 8, published January 2008).
Q: What prompted you to get involved?
A: I work in one of the most deprived areas of the country - with significant health inequalities.I wanted to get involved because this guidance aimed to tackle two huge issues. I feel it's important that policies to reduce health inequalities are embedded in grassroots knowledge.
Q: Have there been any unexpected benefits?
A: I've developed my own skills, knowledge and expertise and learnt more about the topic. As an example of skills development, I helped present work on this guidance at NICE 2007 conference. I've also presented it to local authority members across the country. In addition, I've met people who can help influence and tackle health inequalities including, for example, Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Health.
Q: What impact do you think you had on the PDG?
A: I would have been uncomfortable going back to the communities I work with unless inequalities were recognised. I gave a paper to the group on the impact that health inequalities can have on people's lives. I'm very proud to say that, as a result, the group recognised the need to ensure the recommendations were ‘equality and diversity-proofed'. (Our Centre for Public Health Excellence now has a formal procedure in place to assess the potential impact its guidance will have on health inequalities.)
Q: What advice would you give to someone who has decided to join NICE as a lay member?
A: Be tactful and respectful but, most important, be yourself. Be confident in the skills, knowledge and attributes that you bring to the table. Also be clear about what you think - and why - and be constructive.
Q: How have you helped disseminate and implement the guidance?
A: I helped set up Gloucestershire Physical Activity and Environment Action Board. It includes people from planning, public health, housing, academia, national governing bodies, children and young people's services and members of the local voluntary and community sectors.
One day after the launch of the guidance in London, I organised a local launch of the guidance in Gloucestershire. Since then, we've carried out a mapping exercise of activities to see what changes are needed.
Q: What's the secret to successful implementation of NICE recommendations?
A: You've got to have someone driving the recommendations forward. By bringing together people across the community and sharing information about NICE and its guidance you can help foster better inter-agency working.
Q: What did you do when you met the Secretary of State for Health?
A: I could have had a one-to-one with him about how we're implementing the guidance and the issues we face in tackling health inequalities in Gloucestershire. Instead, I took local people along so they could describe the issues in their own words.
They included my friends from the local Polish, Asian, Czech Roma and the local Gypsy traveller communities, as well as representatives from Gloucestershire Local Involvement Network, Cotswolds District Council and the Forest of Dean Health Forum.
Q: Any advice on how NICE could improve the way we communicate our messages?
A:NICE needs to continue to build up its networks and be very clear about what it is trying to say and why.
Success is all about the honest and respectful relationships that we build and maintain.
22 December 2008
This page was last updated: 20 April 2010