Examination of Witnesses (Questions 297
WEDNESDAY 30 JANUARY 2002
297. Colleagues, can I welcome you to this session
of the Committee. Can I welcome our witnesses today. We are very
grateful for your cooperation with our inquiry and in particular
for the detailed written submissions that you have sent to us.
Could I ask you each briefly to introduce yourself.
(Professor Sir Michael Rawlins) Michael
Rawlins. I am Chairman of NICE but I am also still Professor of
Clinical Pharmacology in Newcastle, where I am also still a general
physician in addition to teaching and research.
(Mr Dillon) I am Andrew Dillon. I am Chief Executive
of NICE. My previous post was Chief Executive of St George's Hospital
(Professor Barnett) David Barnett. I chair the Appraisals
Committee for the Institute. I am Professor of Clinical Pharmacology
in Leicester and I have been a consultant general physician with
interest in cardiovascular medicine for 25 years.
298. Thank you very much. I think you probably
have some idea of the areas that have been covered during the
time that we have been taking evidenceyou are certainly
aware of some of the points that have been made to us. One of
the major areas of discussion has been in respect of the independence
of NICE. That has been discussed within our Committee, it has
been discussed previously in the Commons since NICE was established.
You said in your evidence to us that NICE would receive "guidance
from the Secretary of State or the National Assembly of Wales
on such matters as they feel fit." Can you tell us if ministers
have actually felt fit to influence your decision making? And,
if so, in what ways has this happened?
(Professor Sir Michael Rawlins) No, not in the slightest.
The content of all our guidance that we have received to date
has been drawn up by the Institute and really by the independent
members of the Appraisals Committee, the Guidelines Advisory Committee
and the Guideline Development Groups, and we have had no directions
or late-night phone calls from any Government Minister proposing
that our guidance should be changedand actually, by the
nature of the way we do it, it would be impossible, even if it
had been attempted. There is also a provision in our statutory
instruments for a veto on our guidance by Ministers and they have
never exercised that veto at all.
299. So you are quite categoric about the fact
that there has been no attempt to influence you in any way in
(Professor Sir Michael Rawlins) Not at all.