NICE guidelines and law: clinical governance implications for trusts

Ash Samanta (Consultant Rheumatologist and Lead Clinician for Clinical Governance, Musculoskeletal Directorate, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester, UK)
Jo Samanta (Lecturer in Law at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK)

Clinical Governance: An International Journal

ISSN: 1477-7274

Publication date: 1 December 2004


Clinical guidelines from National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) have been developed by a rigorous process using the highest‐level evidence base. Their objectives are to reduce the variations in clinical care and end the postcode lottery of healthcare delivery. They are backed strongly by the government's agenda, are expected to be implemented and to be monitored, and this is to be monitored by CHAI. Up until now, clinical guidelines have had a secondary status to expert witness testimony in determining the standard of care in law in medical litigation. However, guidelines from NICE may have a more influential role in determining the standard of care in law by setting the standard of expected clinical practice. Trusts need to be sensitive to this as part of their risk management strategy. Trusts should facilitate the implementation of guidelines from NICE and audit their use through the framework of clinical governance. In the rare event that a trust should decide to positively diverge from such guidelines, it should do so only through a mechanism of due process that is required in public law for the accountability of the reasonableness of such a decision.



Samanta, A. and Samanta, J. (2004), "NICE guidelines and law: clinical governance implications for trusts", Clinical Governance: An International Journal, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 212-215.

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