NICE Listens is our programme of deliberative public engagement. It's used to give us an understanding of public opinion on moral, ethical and social value issues.

It helps us make sure that our policies on complex and controversial issues reflect the values of members of the public.

Why we need NICE Listens

Meaningful public engagement is one of the principles at the heart of NICE. We do this in a number of ways:

  • Guidance-producing programmes consult the public on draft guidance and changes to our methods and processes.
  • Our Public Involvement Programme develops and supports the participation of people who use services, carers and members of the public, along with the organisations that represent their interests.
  • The Audience Insight Programme conducts polls, interviews and focus groups that help us better understand audience perceptions about NICE. This information then informs the continual development of our products.

These forms of engagement work well for guidance development, methods changes and service improvement. NICE Listens is a valuable addition that gives us a way to debate and discuss moral, ethical and social value issues.

How NICE Listens works

Using best practice methods, we work with external contractors who specialise in public engagement.

A new sample of members of the public is invited to take part in each new topic. Participants are given time to learn and become familiar with the topic area, before discussing it in detail and making recommendations.

These recommendations are then used by our executive team and board to inform various aspects of our work.

A person joining a video call on their laptop

Current topics

We identify topics by working closely with our staff, board and external partners to understand the most relevant and immediate issues they're facing.

Information about the topics explored through NICE Listens can be found here. Further topics will be added as they're identified and agreed.


NICE is transforming to ensure we can meet the opportunities and challenges of the changing health and care landscape. One of our key priorities in the next 5 years is to focus on what matters most. We are developing a NICE-wide prioritisation and topic selection function which will be underpinned by stakeholder engagement.

Our next NICE Listens project will gather public opinion on how NICE should prioritise its topics for guidance and advice to the health and care system. This project is supported by Sciencewise, who help to ensure policy is informed by the views and aspirations of the public.

The findings will feed into the development of a decision framework, which will be used to guide our decisions on prioritisation and topic selection.

NICE has commissioned Thinks Insight & Strategy to undertake this work. Workshops with the public are planned in November and December 2023 and results will be published alongside the launch of the new prioritisation approach.

Environmental sustainability

The healthcare system in England is responsible for 5% of all UK carbon emissions. The NHS has pledged to become carbon net zero by 2045. We have a role to play in achieving this.

This NICE Listens project explored public opinion on our role in making healthcare more environmentally sustainable. We commissioned a research agency, Basis Social, to run 3 workshops with 23 members of the public in October and November 2022. The workshops were designed to inform, encourage deliberation, and explore the reasons behind people’s opinions. 

The findings from this project have been used to develop recommendations on how we can support the NHS net zero target and environmentally sustainable healthcare.  

Health inequalities

Striking a balance between maximising health gains and addressing health inequalities is challenging. Active engagement with the public to understand the social value judgements involved is required. We needed to gather up to date public opinion in this area, to help us put together a policy response.

In October and November 2021, a series of workshops with 28 members of the public were held to understand how people felt we should act in regard to health inequalities. A research agency, Basis Social, was commissioned to help deliver this piece of work.

The final NICE Listens health inequalities report and accompanying methodology annex, compiled by Basis Social on behalf of NICE, have now been published.

The findings from the report were used to develop a series of recommendations on how we should act in regard to health inequalities.

You can also read more about the work we've previously done around reducing health inequalities in our Community engagement: improving health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities guidance.

Contact us

Email the NICE Listens team if you'd like more information about the programme.

NICE Listens is a collaboration between our Science, Policy and Research Programme and our Public Involvement Programme.