1 Introduction

1 Introduction

NICE's interventional procedures programme assesses the efficacy and safety of interventional procedures used for treatment or diagnosis to determine whether they work well enough and are safe enough for use in the NHS. The programme can assess procedures that involve incision, puncture and entry into a body cavity, or that use ionising, electromagnetic or acoustic energy. No interventional procedure is entirely risk free, but the programme gauges the extent of uncertainties and makes recommendations on their implications for patients, clinicians and healthcare organisations.

NICE issues guidance on interventional procedures to help ensure that:

  • patients and carers:

    • are reassured that new procedures are being monitored and assessed to protect patient safety

    • have access to information about new procedures (NICE produces information for the public for each procedure)

  • clinicians, healthcare organisations and the NHS as a whole are supported in the process of introducing new procedures.

NICE encourages the safe introduction of innovation by:

  • providing advice on the efficacy and safety of new procedures

  • recommending training and other conditions for use of procedures in the NHS

  • facilitating data collection and analysis.

The programme comprises the Interventional Procedures Advisory Committee (IPAC or 'the Committee'), and a team employed by NICE that carries out technical tasks and project management. All members of the Committee are independent of NICE. The programme mostly investigates new procedures, and also examines established procedures if there is uncertainty about their efficacy or safety. It also updates interventional procedures guidance when there is a change in the evidence base to justify this.

The process and methods are designed to ensure that robust guidance is developed for the NHS in an open, transparent and timely way, with appropriate input from consultees and other stakeholders.

NICE was established in legislation as an England‑only body. However, we have agreements with the devolved administrations so that interventional procedures guidance applies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

NHS clinicians are responsible for applying NICE guidance, in their local context, in light of their duties to avoid unlawful discrimination and to promote equality. Nothing in the guidance should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with these duties.

See section 22 for a glossary of terms used in this document.