Process and methods
11 Finalising and publishing the guideline
This chapter describes quality assurance and sign‑off of the guideline after consultation, publication of the guideline, and launching and promoting the guideline.
After changes agreed by the committee have been made to the guideline in response to consultation comments from registered stakeholders, the guideline is reviewed by NICE staff with responsibility for guideline quality assurance. They check that the changes made to the guideline are appropriate and that the developer has responded appropriately to the registered stakeholders' comments. Further changes to the guideline may be needed; the developer continues to maintain an audit trail of all the changes. The NICE Pathway (everything NICE says on a topic in an interactive flowchart) and any supporting resources are amended in line with any changes to the guideline. These also undergo quality assurance and are signed off within NICE.
Before the guideline is signed off for publication, the equality impact assessment is updated by the developer and the committee chair to show whether any additional equality issues have been identified during consultation, and how these have been addressed. The equality impact assessment is published on the NICE website with the final guideline.
NICE's Guidance Executive considers and approves guidelines for publication on behalf of the NICE Board. The Guidance Executive is made up of NICE executive directors, centre directors and the communications director.
When considering a guideline for publication, the Guidance Executive reviews a report from NICE staff with responsibility for guideline quality assurance. The report details whether the guideline:
addresses all the issues identified in the scope
is consistent with the evidence quoted
was developed using the agreed process and methods
was developed with due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality and foster good relations
will lead to a resource impact when implemented.
If any major issue is identified by the Guidance Executive it may be necessary for the committee to meet again to address the problem.
The Guidance Executive does not usually comment at other stages during the development of the guideline.
Registered stakeholders who have commented on the draft guideline (see the chapter on the validation process for draft guidelines, and dealing with stakeholder comments) and agreed to conditions of confidentiality, are sent the final guideline, the evidence reviews and a copy of the responses to stakeholder consultation comments 2 weeks before publication. This information is confidential until the guideline is published. This step allows registered stakeholders to highlight to NICE any substantive errors, and to prepare for publication and implementation. It is not an opportunity to comment further on the guideline. NICE should be notified of any substantive errors at least 1 week before publication of the guideline.
The guideline, including evidence reviews, methods, NICE Pathway, key messages for the public and most support tools (see the chapter on resources to support putting the guideline into practice) are published on the NICE website at the same time.
The developer and committee work with NICE's media relations team and, if implementation support projects are planned, the implementation lead to disseminate and promote awareness of the guideline at the time of publication and afterwards. It is useful to consider at an early stage of guideline development how the guideline and its support tools will be promoted.
Members from the NICE media relations team discuss with the developer and the committee opportunities for promoting the guideline. Committee members may be asked to take part in such activities.
With help from the committee and the developer, they identify how to reach relevant audiences for the guideline, including people using services, carers, the public, practitioners and providers.
NICE may use a range of different methods to raise awareness of the guideline. These include standard approaches such as:
notifying registered stakeholders of publication
publicising the guideline through NICE's newsletter and alerts
issuing a press release or briefing as appropriate, posting news articles on the NICE website, using social media channels, and publicising the guideline within NICE.
NICE may also use other means of raising awareness of the guideline – for example, training programmes, conferences, implementation workshops, NICE field team support and other speaking engagements. Some of these may be suggested by committee members (particularly members affiliated to organisations for people using services and carer organisations). Each guideline is different and activities for raising awareness will vary depending on the type and content of the guideline.
The media relations team may set up interviews or filming with committee members ahead of the guideline launch or on the day itself. NICE can make good use of case studies or experts to illustrate or explain the guideline recommendations. They help to give context to the guideline, explain why the work has been carried out and can illustrate where recommendations have already been put in place or where lessons have been learned. Information may be provided to the media under embargo until the launch date for the guideline. Committee members should ensure that NICE is made aware of any press enquiries they receive before the guideline is launched, and should not answer them without involvement of the media relations team.
A guideline launch is usually accompanied by activity on social media which may include graphics, animations, videos and quotes from key committee members or NICE directors. In most cases, this work will be prepared ahead of the launch.
Committee members may also wish to arrange separate events at which practitioners, providers, commissioners and people using services and the public can learn more about the guideline. Developers should inform committee members that in such cases, the NICE's media relations team should be notified at the earliest possible opportunity. Any materials developed from guideline content by committee members should be submitted to NICE staff with a quality assurance role. Committee members who wish to publish their materials for a UK audience only may do so under the NICE UK Open Content Licence. This is a self-assessment exercise and no fee is involved. The international use of NICE content is subject to a formal licensing agreement, but without a fee for those who have contributed to the development of NICE guidance. Please see NICE's webpage on reusing our content.
When there is likely to be substantial media interest, NICE may hold a press conference before publication of the guideline. This form of briefing allows for a more structured and considered exchange of information between NICE and the media, during which any potentially controversial aspects of the guideline can be explained and set in context. It also gives journalists an opportunity to interview people involved in developing the guideline and other contributors – including people with experiences related to the guideline or representatives from charities and other stakeholders who are supportive of the work.