Process and methods

17 Transparency

NICE is committed to transparency in the process of developing its interventional procedures guidance for the public and its stakeholders.

17.1 Freedom of Information Act 2000

Nothing in this document will restrict any disclosure of information by NICE that is required by law (including, in particular but without limitation, the Freedom of Information Act 2000).

17.2 Public access to Committee meetings

Holding Committee meetings in public supports NICE's commitment to openness and transparency, and allows NICE to show that its processes are rigorous. It helps consultees and stakeholders to understand the basis for the acceptance or rejection of the various forms of evidence that are considered, and illustrates how the Committees that advise NICE take account of the totality of the evidence submitted by stakeholders and consultees.

Public access to meetings of the Committee will be granted in accordance with NICE policies and subject to the standing orders of the Committee.

Arranging attendance at a Committee meeting

NICE publishes a notice on its website announcing each Committee meeting, at least 20 working days in advance of the meeting. The notice includes:

  • the date, time and place of the meeting

  • a list of agenda items, showing whether each will be discussed in the open or closed session of the meeting

  • the name, address and telephone number of the administrator responsible for providing administrative support to the meeting.

Members of the public may apply to observe a meeting via the NICE website. NICE also accepts enquiries by post or fax. Up to 20 places are available for each meeting.

If attendance at any meeting is oversubscribed, attendees are selected according to NICE's allocation procedure. To allow wide public access, NICE reserves the right to limit attendees to 1 representative per organisation.

When the meeting agenda has been finalised, NICE contacts applicants to let them know whether a place is available to them. The invitation includes information on Committee procedures and admission to the building where the meeting is to be held. All efforts are made to follow the meeting agenda, but all agendas can be subject to change because of availability of Committee members and specialist advisers. Attendees should allow for this.

If a meeting is cancelled, NICE will try to provide as much notice as possible.

How meetings are conducted

Scheduled meetings of the Committee are typically held in London, at venues for which access to members of the public is available.

As per NICE policy, each item on the agenda may either be held entirely in public or split into a part 1 session for which the public, companies and additional experts are present and a part 2 session from which the public, companies and additional experts are excluded. The reasons for holding a part 2 session include when:

  • the decisions made by the Committee are commercially sensitive.

  • the Committee is considering commercial- or academic‑in‑confidence information

  • the Committee is considering patient commentator submissions when these have been submitted under conditions of confidentiality.

The decision not to hold a part 2 session is at the discretion of the Chair in consultation with the Centre Director or their nominated deputy, and is taken when no confidential or personal data or information are being considered, and when the matters under consideration are not commercially sensitive.

17.3 Access to documents used in guidance development

So that the process is as transparent as possible, all non‑confidential evidence relevant to the Committee's decisions is made publicly available. The following documents are published on NICE's website:

Documents available at consultation:

  • consultation document

  • overview

  • systematic review and related documents, if commissioned for the procedure

  • specialist advice questionnaires.

Documents available at resolution:

  • final draft guidance

  • consultation comments table with anonymised comments and responses

  • updated literature search.

Documents available on publication of the guidance:

  • the guidance

  • overview, updated to include any new evidence since it was first prepared

  • anonymised consultation comments and responses

  • audit tool, if needed

  • information for patients ('information for the public')

  • equality impact assessment.

The Committee agendas and minutes are also published.

17.4 Using confidential data

Normally, the assessment of procedures by the programme is based on published evidence. However, occasionally it may be necessary for the Committee to review confidential data to assess a procedure. This may happen at any stage in the process. When a data owner considers that unpublished data should be marked as either 'commercial in confidence' or 'academic in confidence', the rationale for doing so should be clearly stated and should be consistent with the following principles:

  • Information and data that are in the public domain anywhere in the world may not be marked as confidential.

  • When confidential results from a research study are used during preparation of an overview, publication of NICE documentation quoting these results will be delayed until the study has been accepted for publication.

NICE asks data owners to reconsider restrictions on release of data, either when there appears to be no obvious reason for the restrictions or when such restrictions would make it difficult or impossible for NICE to show the evidential basis for its guidance.