Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) role in NHS guidelines: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

"Information on how the Scottish government deals with flawed NHS polices and guidelines that results in allowing medical staff to not follow medical facts/science and forcing their own beliefs onto a patient and making incorrect assumptions about the patient which you should never do in the medical field. I would like to know how to get these changed so something that happened to me never happens again and patients are treated with respect and get medical care based on medical science. The Ombudsman was useless when I went through the complaint procedure due to the flawed polices and guidelines that allowed what happened to me."


In Scotland, the development of evidence-based national clinical practice guidelines are sponsored and supported by the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN), which was established by the Academy of Royal Colleges in 1993.

The aim of SIGN is to improve the quality of health care for patients in Scotland by reducing variation in practice and outcome, through the development and dissemination of national clinical guidelines containing recommendations for effective practice based on current evidence.

SIGN is part of the Evidence Directorate of Healthcare Improvement Scotland and core funding supports the SIGN guideline programme. SIGN is editorially independent from Healthcare Improvement Scotland and the Scottish Government which funds Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

All SIGN guideline development is led by, and involves, frontline health and social care professionals in NHS Scotland, as group members and as peer reviewers. This involvement of professionals is one of the main strengths of SIGN and allows the evidence base to be translated into recommendations that reflect the needs of NHS Scotland.

SIGN collaborates with a network of clinicians, other health and social care professionals, patient organisations and individuals to develop evidence-based guidelines. There is also a SIGN Patient and Public Involvement Network which is a ‘virtual’ group of patients, carers, members of the public and patient involvement staff from within NHS Scotland. You can find further information on this group, including how to join here.

As is the case with Female and Male Sterilisation, where there is no SIGN guideline on a particular topic, a healthcare professional would be expected to look for another high quality, evidence based guideline. In this instance, guidelines are provided by the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (FSRH), the largest UK professional membership organisation working in the field of sexual and reproductive health.

The guidance, which you can view here, provides evidence-based recommendations and good practice points for health professionals on elective male sterilisation (vasectomy) and female sterilisation (tubal occlusion) in the UK. It is intended for any health care professional or service that undertakes or refers individuals for either procedure and has been jointly developed with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

You may be interested to know that anyone in Scotland can propose a guideline topic to SIGN. They are keen to consider topics that are important to a range of stakeholders, including patients, carers and the public. You can find more information on how to propose a topic here.

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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