Helping GPs provide the most effective treatments

Our guidelines are based on the best available evidence, aim to change the process of healthcare, and improve people's chances of getting well.

NICE clinical guidelines provide recommendations to GPs and primary care staff on the appropriate treatment and care of people with specific diseases and conditions.

Our guidelines are based on the best available evidence and aim to change the process of healthcare and improve people’s chances of getting as well as possible. Bv implementing our guidelines GPs can trust they are carrying out evidence-based treatments that are both clinically effective and cost- effective.

We have published 179 clinical guidelines so far on a wide range of topics. This year, our clinical guidelines covered topics that include familial breast cancer, autism in children and young people, prostate cancer, and psychosis and schizophrenia in adults.

Among our library of guidelines, the most commonly visited in general practice are:

In August 2013, NICE produced guidelines on acute kidney injury (AKI) which aim to help GPs improve the early detection, prevention and recognition of this potentially fatal condition.

One in five patients who are emergency admissions to hospital will present with AKI, a condition that refers to the loss of kidney function over hours or days.

But despite the frequency of AKI, it is often considered to be a ‘Cinderella' condition with low levels of awareness and education among health professionals and the general public.

NICE's guideline on acute kidney injury aims to standardise care across the NHS so that every patient receives the best practice and treatment.

The guideline says GPs can play a key role in identifying and treating patients with AKI, those who have developed AKI in the community, and to be involved in prescribing decisions where the risk of AKI may be reduced.

Dr Kathryn Griffith, Royal College of General Practitioners Clinical Champion for Kidney Care, said: “GPs can play role in identifying and treating patients with AKI.

“AKI is seen in 13-18 per cent of all people admitted to hospital and the more patients identified and treated in primary care, the better, both for our patients and the NHS.

“Our population is ageing and our patients are increasingly presenting with multiple and complex conditions, including AKI. GPs are in a good position to take a lead in reducing our patients' risk of AKI and its long term complications through providing relevant information to patients and promoting self-care.

“The NICE guidelines outline important courses of action for GPs to identify patients who are most at risk of AKI, how to test for and diagnose the condition, and how to treat it.”

Work has also been undertaken this year on developing a new manual for the development of clinical, public health and social care guidelines. The manual will set out a consistent process for developing guidelines across different areas and aims to increase transparency, by documenting the rationale for the use of different methods.

NICE guidelines help speed up cancer diagnosis times

This year, a study revealed that the time taken to diagnose certain common cancers, from the point when a patient from the point when a patient first reports a possible symptom to their GP, fell in adults by an average of five days, following the launch of NICE guidelines on cancer referral.

Researchers found that the average time it took to be diagnosed for a range of common cancers combined fell from 125 days in 2001/2002 to 120 days in 2007/2008.

Overall, there was a reduction in the time taken from first presentation to diagnosis for 15 cancers.

For kidney, head and neck, and bladder cancers, more than two weeks were shaved off the time between first reporting a possible symptom and receiving a diagnosis.

The researchers suggest that the improvement may be thanks to the 2005 publication of NICE guidelines for urgent referral of suspected cancer.

The guidelines give GPs advice about symptoms which might indicate cancer and mean the patient should be urgently referred for further testing.

Lead researcher Richard Neal, Professor of Primary Care Medicine at Bangor University, said: “Our study shows that there was a small but significant improvement overall in diagnosis times for many cancers between 2001/2002 and 2007/2008. And this is likely, at least in part, to be as a result of the introduction of the 2005 NICE urgent referral guidelines.”