1. Benefits

What are the key benefits of NICE accreditation?

Benefits to guidance producers
  • only accredited guidance and advice is used to develop NICE quality standards
  • the Accreditation Mark is a recognised sign of high quality processes used to produce guidance and advice
  • boosted ranking in NICE Evidence Search results
  • increased visibility on NICE Evidence Search.

Benefits to NICE Evidence Search users

  • accredited guidance is clearly visible in search results
  • confidence in knowing that the information is produced to a high standard

What is the Accreditation Mark?

The Accreditation Mark is a registered trade mark of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. It appears within search results next to information produced according to an accredited process. The Accreditation Mark can also appear on guidance and advice produced according to an accredited process, and on the guidance producer's website.

2. Eligibility

The accreditation programme accredits the processes used to develop guidance and advice, not organisations themselves. A process means the defined steps used to develop a specific guidance or advice product. 'Guidance and advice' in this context is defined as 'systematically developed statements to guide decisions about appropriate health and social care to improve individual and population health and wellbeing'.

What do you accredit?

This definition covers, for example, clinical guidelines, referral guidelines, public health guidelines, policy guidance, commissioning guidance and advice, clinical summaries and best practice statements, including public health and social care.

The accreditation programme also uses the same criteria to assess the processes used to develop the content used in Clinical Decision Support (CDS) systems.

Is all content on NICE Evidence Search accredited?

Not all content on NICE Evidence Search is accredited. Non-accredited guidance on NICE Evidence Search is still good quality and will continue to be made available as a valuable resource.

Is accreditation for UK organisations only?

Although UK organisations are the priority, applications from non-UK organisations producing English language guidance will be considered for accreditation. We do charge a registration fee for processing accreditation applications from non-UK guidance producers. It is recommended that guidance producers contact us before submitting an application to verify their eligibility and to discuss any applicable fees.

Can commercial organisations apply for accreditation?

Yes, commercial organisations that meet the eligibility criteria can apply for accreditation, although a fee may be applicable (please see below). You can find the eligibility criteria in the accreditation process manual.

How much does it cost?

Processing an application for NICE accreditation is free to UK organisations that make their content freely available on NICE Evidence Search. We do charge a registration fee for eligible English language international guidance producers. Please contact us for more information about fees that may be applicable.

Do you accredit individual guidelines?

We assess processes used to develop guidance rather than individual guidelines, although a unique process may be used to produce just one piece of guidance or advice. In that case the product and any future updates, or any future guidance or advice produced using the same process, can bear the Accreditation Mark, provided they fall within the standard term of accreditation.

Some criteria don't apply to us - does this mean we are ineligible for accreditation?

Not necessarily. The relevance of some criteria varies according to the specific guidance process and product being evaluated, and in some circumstances, although the process may be eligible, not all of the criteria may be applicable.

The Accreditation Advisory Committee will debate the impact of non-applicable criteria on a case-by-case basis. If the degree of variance from the accreditation criteria is considered significant, then the process might be considered ineligible for accreditation assessment.

Our content is not currently on NICE Evidence Search, can we apply?

If you would like your content to be available through NICE Evidence Search, please complete a source inclusion form and our sources team will assess your eligibility. If you are eligible for inclusion and you meet our definition of guidance and advice, then your process will be eligible for accreditation assessment.

If you do not wish to provide your content through NICE Evidence Search you may be required to submit structured abstracts of content to be made available on NICE Evidence Search, or else provide a fee. The requirements vary according to both the type of organisation and the type of information produced. Please get in touch to see if your content is eligible for inclusion.

3. How are submissions assessed?

Is there a pass mark?

There is no absolute pass mark or threshold for accreditation. Each accreditation submission is considered on a case-by-case basis on its own merits. Each decision is based upon the guidance producer meeting the relevant and necessary accreditation criteria that are appropriate for its particular type of guidance.

How long does it take?

From acceptance of a submission the accreditation process takes approximately 6 months to publication of the final accreditation report, unless the decision is made not to accredit. Decisions not to accredit a guidance producer's process take another 1 or 2 months because they are subject to public consultation, after which the Accreditation Advisory Commitee will make a final recommendation. View a summary of the Accreditation process.

Occasionally the process can take longer if the committee requires further information to reach a recommendation, in which case you will be notified and asked to provide this information. This can add 1 to 2 months to the process.

Are some criteria more important than others?

All criteria are important, but because of the wide variation in types of guidance and advice eligible for accreditation, not all of the criteria may be applicable. Guidance producers should describe how their processes fulfil the criteria and explain if any are not considered applicable to their particular process and guidance product.

For some types of information certain criteria may be particularly important, for example discussing risks and benefits in safety guidance. This will be taken into account on a case-by-case basis.

Guidance producers may find it helpful to review details of previous decisions for other organisations that produce similar guidance to get an insight into the key issues.

How can you use the same criteria to cover such a broad range of guidance and advice?

The criteria reflect general processes in developing a wide range of guidance and advice (see What do you accredit?). Evidence of compliance with criteria varies depending on the type of guidance and the organisation's specific processes. Please see the user guide for further information

4. The accreditation process

Before

Will all our guidance products be covered by one application, or do we have to make a separate submission for each process used?

One accreditation submission is required for 1 guidance production process. If there are different processes used to produce different types of guidance and advice, each process will have to be submitted separately. Where one process is used to produce a range of guidance documents, this should still be a single application.

During

Can we send a representative to speak to the committee?

No. This has been considered and it was felt that it may introduce an element of bias. Therefore you must submit enough information with your application to ensure all questions are answered.

Can we comment on ours or another organisation's application, through public consultation?

Anyone - including the submitting organisation - is invited to comment on any of the submissions at the public consultation stage in the event of a decision not to accredit.

Where can we track the progress of our submission?

On the NICE accreditation pages. The accreditation decisions table shows whether your submission is at the initial, draft or final accreditation stage. The accreditation team will also keep you informed of the progress of your application.

Following a decision to accredit

How long does accreditation last for?

Accreditation lasts 5 years from the date accreditation is awarded.

Do we have to let you know if we change our processes?

Yes, you must notify us of any changes to your process that may impact on accreditation criteria, within 30 days of that change occurring. We will then send you a form to complete asking you to describe how your processes have changed. The accreditation team will formally assess the changes and look for any implications to your process that could impact on your guidance authoring process and therefore your accreditation status.

How do you monitor compliance with the terms and conditions?

Guidance producers are asked to inform us of any process changes that may impact on accreditation criteria, within 30 days of that change occurring, together with an explanation of how the fulfilment of the accreditation criteria may be affected. We also require guidance producers to confirm, in writing, that the accredited process has not changed at 2 time points 18 months and 36 months after accreditation has been awarded. At these points we will also examine a sample of guidance to confirm the information you provide.

In addition anyone, at any time, can notify us of a possible breach of the terms and conditions. We reserve the right to suspend accredited status pending investigation.

When can we display the Accreditation Mark?

As soon as you receive our formal notification email you can use the Accreditation Mark. Accreditation is granted for a period of 5 years after which accreditation will expire and your process will need to be reassessed.

Can accreditation be applied retrospectively?

Yes. Accreditation is valid for a period of 5 years from the date of the final decision, and retrospectively for a period of 3 years, up to the date of the last process update. To be eligible you must have produced new or updated guidance in the last 3 years, according to the process undergoing assessment.

Where can we display the Accreditation Mark?

Accredited guidance producers are granted a royalty-free, worldwide licence to use the Accreditation Mark in accordance with the Terms of Use. You can display the Accreditation Mark on (or alongside) guidance which has been developed using an accredited process. The Terms of Use are sent to guidance producers following a positive decision.

Following a decision not to accredit

What if we disagree with the result?

There is a defined resolution process in place should you feel that the process has not been followed. It is important to note that the resolution panel will only consider challenges to a decision on the grounds that there has been a perceived breach of process in arriving at a final decision. The purpose of this resolution step is to ensure that accreditation decision-making has not deviated unreasonably from the specified process. Applicants have 20 working days from receipt of the final accreditation report to challenge the decision otherwise we will assume that there is no challenge to the accreditation decision. The final accreditation report will then be published on the NICE website.

Can we withdraw at any time?

Organisations can withdraw an application at any stage of the accreditation process.

If we withdraw, will the results still be published?

Yes the results of any provisional decision up to the point of withdrawal will be published on the NICE website.

If we withdraw or we are not awarded accreditation, what will happen to our content currently accessible through NICE Evidence Search?

Content will continue to be available in the same way on NICE Evidence Search.

What happens if our process has been accredited but we are unsuccessful in re-applying for accreditation?

If accredited guidance producers are unsuccessful in their reapplication, any subsequent guidance produced or updated will not be awarded the Accreditation Mark and will not be considered as the basis for NICE quality standards, or benefit from boosting in NICE Evidence Search returns. However guidance that was produced according to a previously accredited process will still bear the Accreditation Mark.

If our organisation has more than one process for the production of guidance, what will it mean to us if one is successful and one is not?

Because applications for different processes are assessed independently, one decision will have no bearing on the other. The guidance produced using the accredited process will show the Accreditation Mark, and the non-accredited guidance will not.

If our organisation is unsuccessful, when can we re-apply?

The normal reapplication period is 1 year from the date of the final decision not to accredit. We believe this is the minimum period required to amend processes and produce guidance examples using the new methods. Reapplication outside this timeframe is at the discretion of the Accreditation Advisory Committee.

5. Information and support

Where can we find examples of successful applications or best practice?

We have produced accreditation assessment framework and advice for guidance development, using examples of accredited guidance production processes, and how they are implemented. You can also find details of how different accredited guidance producers fared in each criterion by viewing the details of previous decisions.

Is there a list of accredited guidance producers?

A list of all accredited guidance producers whose processes have been accredited is available on the NICE website, and you can view the status of all accreditation applications, where accredited guidance producers are indicated by 'Accredited - final decision'.

In addition, guidance produced according to an accredited process is identified by the Accreditation Mark in the search results on NICE Evidence Search.

 The Accreditation Mark is also displayed next to the name of guidance producers whose processes have been accredited, under the 'Sources' filter on the left hand menu.

Will our organisation be accredited if we use an accredited organisation's process?

Although your organisation may use an accredited process from another organisation, there may be differences in how the processes are implemented. For this reason, a separate application is required, including examples of guidance produced using the process.

What support can you provide to help improve our processes?

We can provide practical advice on accreditation based on our experience and run frequent workshops to explain more about the accreditation process. Details can be found on the website and you can contact us for more information. We also provide a gap analysis tool that allows you to assess your processes against the accreditation criteria, to help you determine your readiness to apply.