The House of Commons Health Select Committee will hold the first hearing of its new investigation into the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence on May 17.

Other hearings (oral evidence sessions) will be held on June 28 and July 12, plus at least one further session during the third quarter of this year, the panel has said.

Health Select Committee members conducted a lengthy and wide-ranging probe into the Institute back in early 2002. Then, on February 2 this year, they announced that they would be starting a new investigation, and have been collecting written evidence since then.

Specifically, the new enquiry is seeking to examine:_ – why NICE decisions are increasingly being challenged;_ – whether public confidence in the Institute is waning and, if so, why; _– NICE’s evaluation process, and whether any particular groups are disadvantaged by the process;_ – the speed of publishing guidance;_ – the appeal system;_ – comparison with the work of the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network and_ – the implementation of NICE guidance, both technology appraisals and clinical guidelines, namely which guidance is acted on, which is not and the reasons for this.