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NICE and local government

March 31, 2011

Following the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill, the work of NICE is likely to be much more on the radar of local authorities, both in relation to social care and to public health. At the moment, local authorities probably use NICE’s resources less than they could or should.

This is unfortunate because local authorities themselves do not have the resources to carry out the rigorous literature reviews, analysis and interpretation of evidence done by NICE.

One way in which the transfer of public health to local authorities may be helpful is in bringing this kind of evidence-based work closer to local government, both so that local government can benefit from the methodology developed by NICE and also so that NICE can benefit from local authorities’ close links with communities to assist with embedding strengthened evaluation in local authority health and social care commissioning and programmes of work.

The legislation will put NICE at a further remove from the Department of Health, making it more independent. In light of the recent instruction to NICE to suspend or cease much of its current public health research, this is to be welcomed.

The current transitional stage while new legislation is being implemented provides opportunities for local government to influence NICE’s work on health and social care and the kind of products it produces. Local authorities are encouraged to keep in touch with developments through contact with NICE’s Centre for Public Health Excellence, the Healthy Communities Team at Local Government Improvement and Development and by joining the Health Communities Community of Practice.

The LGiU is planning to run a new local health learning network expected to start in May. This network will build knowledge, facilitate workshops and spread learning through face to face meetings and through social media, and will be of interest to officers and members in councils that are involved in public health, health inequalities and social care.

This post is based on a LGiU members briefing written by Fiona Campbell. Briefings are available through individual subscriptions and accessible to all officers and elected members of our member authorities. For more information on joining the Local Government Information Unit please follow this link.

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