We use a single, unified process to develop guidelines. You can read our process and methods in developing NICE guidelines: the manual.
Before October 2014, we developed guidelines under 5 different areas. You can find out more about this in section 1.2 of developing NICE guidelines: the manual.
When the unified process was published in October 2014, some topics were already in the later stages of development. Those topics continued to be developed under their original areas.
Clinical guidelines recommend how healthcare professionals should care for people with specific conditions.
They can cover any aspect of a condition and may include recommendations about providing information and advice, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and longer-term management.
These guidelines are also important for health service managers and commissioners of NHS services.
See the milestone dates for clinical guidelines in development.
Some clinical guidelines aren’t updated as often as the rest of NICE's clinical guidelines. They are placed on the static list and are reviewed less often.
Guideline development before 2015
Clinical guidelines that were already in development before 1 January 2015 used the following process:
- See previous versions of the clinical guidelines development manuals (2006 - 2009).
Positively Equal: a guide to addressing equality issues in developing clinical guidelines is used by NICE's Centre for Clinical Practice, the National Collaborating Centres, chairs and members of the decision-making committee.
National Collaborating Centres (NCCs)
National Collaborating Centres (NCCs) help develop clinical guidelines by using the expertise of the royal medical colleges, professional bodies and patient/carer organisations.
- The National Guideline Centre (NGC) is hosted by the Royal College of Physicians and overseen by the Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of Surgeons of England. NGC was formerly the National Clinical Guideline Centre (NCGC).
- The National Guideline Alliance (NGA) is hosted by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. It was formed on 1 April 2016 and merged the National Collaborating Centre for Cancer (NCC-C), the National Collaborating Centre for Women's and Children's Health (NCC-WCH) and the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (NCCMH).
Cancer service guidance focuses on the way services are organised for the treatment of different types of cancer. It is therefore different from clinical practice guidelines.
Public health guidelines
Guidelines on public health topics make recommendations on local interventions that can help prevent disease or improve health.
The guidance may focus on a particular topic (such as smoking), a particular population (such as schoolchildren) or a particular setting (such as the workplace).
This guidance is aimed at public health professionals and practitioners and others with a direct or indirect role in public health within the NHS, local authorities and the wider public, voluntary, community and private sectors.
Some public health guidelines are not updated as often as the rest of NICE's public health guidelines. They are placed on a static list and are reviewed less often.
Guideline development before 2015
Public health guidelines that were already in development before 1 January 2015 used the following process:
- See previous versions of the public health development manuals (2006 - 2012).
We also produce some additional public health reports that are not classed as guidelines.
Social care guidelines
Social care guidelines aim to improve outcomes for people who use social care support by ensuring that social care services and interventions are effective and cost-efficient. They do this by making recommendations about best practice, drawn from current evidence-based research.
Social care guidelines are primarily aimed at social care practitioners and providers (including in the independent and voluntary sector). Depending on the topic, social care guidelines may also be relevant to: healthcare practitioners and providers, health and social care commissioners, and people who user services and their families or carers (including people who buy their own care).Guideline development
Social care guidelines that were already in development before 1 January 2015 used the following process:
The National Collaborating Centre for Social Care uses NICE's methods and processes to develop social care guidelines. The NCCSC also provides NICE with support for adoption and dissemination of social care guidelines and quality standards. The NCCSC is managed by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) on behalf of its partners:
- Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI-Centre) which is part of the Social Science Research Unit at the Institute of Education, University of London
- Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Kent
- Research in Practice (RIP)
- Research in Practice for Adults (RIPfA).
Medicines practice guidelines
Medicines practice guidelines provide recommendations for good practice for those individuals and organisations involved in governing, commissioning, prescribing and decision-making about medicines. They have a wide range of audiences across both health and social care.
These guidelines provide good practice recommendations for people and organisations involved in working with medicines in:
They have an emphasis on the implications for national medicines practice and are also used to develop quality standards that review systems and processes relating to the use of medicines in different settings and organisations.Guideline development
Medicines practice guidelines that were already in development before 1 January 2015 used the following process:
Safe staffing guidelines
Following the Report of the Francis Inquiry and the Berwick Review into Patient Safety, NICE produced 2 guidelines on safe staffing capacity and capability in the NHS.
From June 2015 NHS England will take forward staffing work as part of a wider programme of service improvement.