The issue addressed in the paper published by the Italian National Bioethics Committee (NBC) entitled “Clinical ethics committees”, is highly significant for many reasons. One of these is the fact that the ethics committees charged with assessing clinical trials have so much responsibility and such a heavy work-load that they have little time available for other tasks such as engaging directly with patients “at the bedside”, as a result of which the role of committees responsible for assessing clinical cases is especially important. According to the NBC, the opinions of clinical ethics committees should be formulated jointly and are non-binding. The NBC offers practical proposals not only for the Italian context. While the Italian National Institute of Health (Istituto Superiore di Sanità – ISS) is not involved directly in treating patients, its role in providing guidance is crucial to the national health service and it has always paid special attention to these issues.