Published: 14/03/2002, Volume II2, No. 5796 Page 22 23

Following your report, 'Hunt must act on NICE panto' (news, page 6, 14 February), it is important to clarify some issues.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence is a part of the modernisation programme for the NHS, and we accept our emergence had mixed views from the pharmaceutical industry, the professions and patient groups.

In dealing with 'critics', we often find criticism is fuelled by lack of understanding of our processes, or the interests of the groups we engage with. Wherever possible, we correct misunderstandings and place the facts in the public domain. To do otherwise would allow misconceptions to become delusions.

There were no ready-made procedures for us to follow as NICE was the first organisation of its kind, anywhere in the world. Therefore, we review and aim to learn from the way people see us and the feedback we receive. For example, changes in the way we conduct appraisals and the current review of the appeals process were stimulated because we took into account such feedback.

It is true some of the evidence received by the Commons health select committee was inaccurate and some is contradictory.

Topics are often referred to NICE because of genuine concerns or disagreements regarding their potential value. That is why when producing guidance we follow a transparent and inclusive process, and provide the independent committee which advises us with access to all stakeholders' views.

Anne-Toni Rodgers NICE communications director