• 26Jun

    NICE debates social values and balancing fairness with equality

    When NICE’s Citizen Council, a group of 30 members of the general public, met last month they were asked to consider what social values NICE should consider when balancing fairness with efficiency.

    At the meeting, the Citizens Council were presented with a number of scenarios across the health, public health and social care sectors.

    They were then asked to a draw up a list of social values, and compare how they apply to all three sectors when balancing equity with efficiency.

    Social values are an important component in the development of NICE’s guidance and quality standards.

    While NICE bases its decisions on the best available evidence, sometimes this evidence is not of good quality or not necessarily complete.

    Consequently, NICE has to make judgements. These can be scientific value judgements about interpreting the quality and significance of the data available. Alternatively, they can be social value judgements that relate to social issues rather than science.

    Professor Sarah Garner, Associate Director for Research and Development at NICE, explains:

    “Our decisions aim to help improve the clinical and cost effectiveness of health and social care.

    “In the absence of evidence, or in value judgements where there is no right or wrong answer, we need to be sure that the judgements we use reflect those of the general public.”

    She added: “NICE is in the process of integrating how it develops its guidance and quality standards across health, public health and social are, so we would like to know what the public’s views are on what social values are similar for each area, and where they might differ.

    “The Citizens Council’s views will then be used to update NICE’s Social Values Judgements document, which outlines principles for the development of NICE guidance.”

    A report summarising the Council’s views will be available on the NICE website for public comment later this year, before the Council submits a report to the NICE Board setting out its findings.

    For more details about the Council and the meeting click here.