Process and methods

2 Topic consultation, selection and prioritisation

The topic consultation, selection and prioritisation occurs every 2 years and is supported by the NICE project team following:

  • Stage 1: Production of proposed list of topics for development

  • Stage 2: Consultation and identification of potential topics

  • Stage 3: Topic selection and prioritisation

  • Stage 4: Formal selection of topics.

2.1 Stage 1: Production of proposed list of topics

The NICE project team produces a proposed list of topics for developing good practice guidance (GPG), which includes:

  • topics referred from the Department of Health or NHS England

  • additional topics for consideration

  • topics not considered for development in the current work programme but suggested in previous consultations.

The NICE project team will use a standard template for the topic selection and prioritisation process.

2.2 Stage 2: Consultation and identification of potential topics

Stakeholders (including government departments, NHS organisations and professional bodies; criteria for stakeholders remain the same as for all stages of GPG development) are invited to submit comments on the proposed list of topics and suggestions for additional topics, including a rationale for each, during a 4‑week consultation phase.

The NICE project team reviews each submitted comment and topic suggestion at the end of the consultation phase. The team considers whether each suggested topic is:

  • included as a topic on the long list

  • added to a long list as a new topic title

  • excluded from the long list because of exclusion criteria:

    • topics that have been included in existing NICE publications

    • guidance falls within the domain of other agencies or national bodies

    • specific drug-related topic

  • not selected.

Each topic identified is reviewed and collated in a summary table (a standard template for the topic selection – consultation comments will be used).Topics are prioritised according to the number of suggestions made for a particular topic. For example, topic A has been suggested 7 times, topic B has been suggested once and topic C has been suggested 3 times. Topic A will take priority, followed by topic C, then topic B.

The NICE project team collates all comments received and produces a long list, which is reviewed to provide formal responses to comments. Similar topics are grouped together where relevant based on the above exclusion criteria and topic suggested. The NICE project team will use a standard topic selection – long list template.

2.3 Stage 3: Topic selection and prioritisation

The NICE project team uses the long list and applies the following inclusion criteria to create a shortlist[1]:

  • Safety concerns relating to systems and processes associated with medicines and prescribing.

  • Gap between evidence and practice.

  • Identifiable inappropriate variation in practice across the country.

  • Relevant priorities set out by NHS England.

  • Topics referred for urgent consideration by NHS England or the Department of Health.

Each topic is reviewed by the NICE project team and assigned criteria as above. The drivers, rationale and organisations and their comments that endorse topic selection are included in the shortlist. Proposed timescales for guidance development are also included. The NICE project team will use a standard topic selection – shortlist' template.

Some topics identified for inclusion in the shortlist may have the same criteria as other topics that have not been shortlisted; prioritisation for the shortlist also considers the urgency and utility to the service, which may prioritise specific areas for shortlisting over others. The shortlist is limited to 6 topics only, covering a 3‑year work programme.

2.4 Stage 4: Formal selection of topics

The shortlist and supporting rationale are reviewed by the Centre for Clinical Practice Director. This final shortlist is then reviewed and agreed by the NICE senior management team as formal topic selection and provides the work programme for developing GPG.

The NICE GPG development webpages are updated to reflect the topics that have been agreed.

After formal selection of topics, the NICE project lead plans a programme of work identifying a NICE project team and resources to deliver outputs over the 3‑year period.

For subsequent topic consultations, the process begins with stakeholders being invited to submit suggestions and comments on the existing shortlist and provide suggestions and comments on potential topics for inclusion in the work programme. The process will then start again, following stages 1–4 as outlined above.



[1] All of the inclusion criteria have equal importance in prioritising the shortlist, with the exception of topics referred for urgent consideration by the Department of Health or NHS England; urgent topics that are referred are considered as priority.