NHS England (NHSE) is launching a major consultation on proposals to strengthen the management of conflicts of interest and clamp down on inappropriate behaviour.
During the six-week consultation, all interested parties will have the opportunity to make their voices heard about these proposals which cover gifts, sponsorship, hospitality, employment, and other interests.
NHSE set up a group to look into developing a stronger approach to managing conflicts of interest, both real and perceived, in March this year.
The group is led by Chair of NHS England Sir Malcolm Grant, and includes representatives from the British Medical Journal, NICE, the Care Quality Commission, the Local Government Association and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.
The group has already investigated best practice in health, other sectors and internationally and is now proposing measures to strengthen conflict of interest identification and management.
The proposals include:
- setting out what is and is not acceptable in relation to individual types of interest
- the processes by which interests should be identified and conflicts of interest managed appropriately
- information which NHS organisations must publish in relation to staff interests
- ensuring that staff and others understand what constitutes both interests and conflicts of interest as well as the circumstances surrounding them
- the processes by which organisations should ensure they appropriately manage any breaches of conflicts of interest policy.
Following the consultation, NHS bodies will work together to finalise the guidance and ensure effective implementation of the plans.
Sir Malcolm Grant said: “We have a responsibility to use the £110bn healthcare budget provided by the taxpayer to the best effect possible for patients, with integrity, and free from undue influence. Spending decisions in healthcare should never be influenced by thoughts of private gain.”
Miss Clare Marx, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said: “Clear guidance for NHS staff on managing any potential conflicts of interest is long overdue.”