Helping patients and the public get access to NICE guidance

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is an independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance on clinical and public health. They produce guidance in three main areas; health technologies, focusing on the use of new and existing drugs, devices and operations; clinical practice, relating to appropriate treatment for specific diseases and conditions; and public health, involving the promotion of good health and prevention of ill health.

They are working to make it easier for the public to find out about their guidance. They can help public libraries to meet library users’ demands for health information by providing access to patient-friendly versions of NICE guidance.

Working with NICE

All their clinical guidance is produced in patient-friendly versions called ‘Understanding NICE guidance’. These explain what they have recommended so that people know what they are entitled to and are better able to make informed health decisions. The guidance covers a wide range of topics – they have published guidance on topics such as the care of women during pregnancy, treatment for people with prostate cancer and managing osteoarthritis.

The most straightforward way of obtaining copies of NICE guidance, including the versions for patients, is via their website at (follow the link to ‘Our guidance’). The patient versions can be downloaded and printed off in Word and pdf formats. Libraries that would like printed copies of NICE guidance for reference can order these, free of charge, from the NICE publications line – 0845 003 7783.

You can keep up to date with the latest news from NICE by subscribing to their monthly electronic newsletter. This includes details of new guidance published by NICE. You can sign up for the electronic newsletter on the website at

NICE’s public health guidance is not currently produced in versions written specifically for the public. However, members of the public can obtain copies of quick reference guides that summarise the recommendations in our public health guidance. This can be done via the NICE website (following the link to ‘Our guidance’) or by contacting the publications line on the number above.


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