CCG corruption fears prompt calls for regulation

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Andy B 2 Evidence of widespread conflicts of interest among NHS commissioners has prompted calls from the BMA and the Labour Party for tighter regulation.

A BMJ study found that more than a third of GPs on the new CCG boards had a financial interest in private providers of healthcare, either as shareholders or as directors.

The NHS Commissioning Board stated that transparency over potential conflicts of interest would enable CCGs to self-regulate effectively.

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham commented: “There is a real risk that the doctor-patient relationship will be corroded and public trust in the NHS lost.

“At the very least, ministers must bring in new rules to ensure that no GP takes part in any decision in which they could be perceived to have a financial interest.”

The BMA expressed concern that the reputation of GPs was at risk. Laurence Buckman, Chairman of its General Practitioners Committee, said: “In our view, GPs who are directors of, or who have significant financial interests in, companies who might be awarded contracts to provide services should seriously consider their membership of CCG governing bodies. Alternatively, they should consider their position within provider companies.

“We support the principle of greater clinician involvement in commissioning, but it must not come at the expense of the trust of patients.”

According to an NHS Commissioning Board spokesman, “it is vital that everyone working for a CCG or serving on its governing body declares any interests they have. This allows the CCG to put arrangements in place to ensure that those individuals are not involved in any decisions that would give rise to a conflict.”