24 July 2017

Managing conflicts of interest – making good decisions

NICE is seeking views on a new conflicts of interest policy to ensure its committees’ decisions are fair and unbiased.

Managing conflicts of interest – making good decisions

The new draft policy outlines the arrangements for members of advisory committees to declare their interests. It also explains how NICE handles any conflicts in these.

Once finalised, it will replace the existing policy that was agreed in 2014.

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive at NICE 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.”

The draft NICE policy was created in light of new NHS guidance on managing conflicts of interest, which was published earlier this year.    

The draft NICE policy includes:

  • A clearer distinction between interests that should be declared and those interests which are declared and are a conflict of interest.
  • Clarification that only interests that are relevant or potentially relevant to the work of NICE need to be declared.
  • 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.
  • More detailed direction on the points in the guidance development process that interests should be declared.
  • 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.

Professor Leng added: “We recognise there are differing views on the approach to managing conflicts of interest so we would warmly welcome feedback and views on the proposals. In particular, we would like to hear if the draft policy is clear and understandable, and whether it will ensure the right level of expert input, whilst ensuring confidence in the integrity and objectivity of our guidance.”

The consultation runs for 8 weeks, closing on 18 September 2017. It will then be considered by the NICE Board.

The new policy will be implemented in early 2018.

To maintain people’s trust we need to manage interests and identify potential conflicts of interests effectively.

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive at NICE