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.

11.1 Quality assurance of 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. Any supporting resources are amended in line with any changes to the guideline. These also undergo quality assurance and are signed off within NICE.

Equality impact assessment

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 also undergoes quality assurance and is signed off by NICE. It is published on the NICE website with the final guideline.

11.2 Signing off the 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.

11.3 Embargoed release (releasing an advance copy to stakeholders)

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, may be 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.

11.4 Publication

The guideline, including evidence reviews, methods, key messages for the public, equality impact assessment, responses to stakeholder comments, 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.

11.5 Launching and promoting the guideline

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 as appropriate, posting news articles and blogs on the NICE website, using social media channels, and promoting 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.

Press launches

A press release is not normally issued when the final guideline publishes, unless there is significant public interest in the guideline. Similarly, full press launches or press conferences are not normally held at guideline publication, unless there is heightened media interest. A press launch or conference 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 (such as members of the guideline committee), and potentially other contributors (including people with personal experience in the area the guideline covers, or representatives from charities and other stakeholders who support the guideline).

The media relations team may set up interviews or filming with committee members. This can be done 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 and guideline developers should ensure that NICE is made aware of any press enquiries they receive before the guideline is launched, and should not answer them without the involvement of the media relations team.

Committee members and guideline developers should tell the media relations team if they find out that external organisations are planning their own media promotion for the guideline (for example by issuing their own press release).

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.