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Commissioners were 'paid £500 to attend lobbying events'

NHS England has revealed that CCG members have been paid to attend events where they were being lobbied by companies trying to sell products to the NHS.

According to NHS England board papers, an external audit of conflict of interest policies found instances of CCG members ’involved in drugs purchasing decisions for NHS bodies who also hold advisory roles with drugs companies’.

In response, NHS England has published new guidance to CCGs on conflicts management which could mean over two thirds of CCGs will have to make changes to their board line up.

NHS England has been looking into how commissioners handle conflicts of interests partly as a result of the move towards CCGs taking on responsibility for commissioning primary care through ‘co-commissioning’ arrangements.

A National Audit Office report warned last autumn that the move to co-commissioning was putting GPs at risk of conflict of interest accusations.

NHS England’s board today approved plans for a further 51 CCGs to take on full delegated responsibility for commissioning general practice, in addition to an existing 63 - meaning more than half of all CCGs are now responsible for GP contractual arrangements.

Following the audit, NHS England announced a series of measures to limit conflicts of interest, including CCGs appointing at least three lay board members and a conflicts of interest guardia, and publishing publically available registers of gifts and hospitality.

In today’s NHS England board meeting, chair Professor Sir Malcolm Grant said around 30% of CCGs already have three lay board members.

NHS England said it will also ‘toughen up’ its internal conflicts of interest management, ’including more stringent safeguards on the role of interest groups, lobbyists, and commercial organisations in specialised commissioning’.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: ’In a tax funded health system, the public rightly demand high standards of probity from both NHS staff and health care suppliers.

’Recent cases in the UK and indeed worldwide have underscored the need for action.“Sunshine” rules to bring greater transparency, tougher restrictions on conflicts of interest, and clearer guidelines on industry partnerships and influence will benefit patients and protect taxpayers.’

In today’s board meeting, Professor Grant said the move ’institutionalised the potential of conflicts of interest’ but board members agreed CCG co-commissioning was ‘essential’.

 

Readers' comments (10)

  • Money from big Pharma influences everything, seemingly now even what films are shown at the Tribeca festival as apparently nothing except attacks on pharmaceutical products are taboo!
    It is good this is coming out in the open.

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  • One despairs when the first comment on a serious problem comes from an anonymous anti-vaccination crank.

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  • what are their names?

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  • This applies not just to procurement or advisory roles in pharma companies it also probably applies to the IT sector and foreign trips for CCG member dealing with IT and doing so called 'projects' which become ethereal once the NHS funding available has dried. Generally speaking, where money speaks, things are bound to go haywire if the people involved do not have enough integrity.

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  • A small example is private companies being able to spam our nhs email boxes with no way to block them. Some are selling 'Hot topics' CQC training, offering locums or services or advertising medicines/vacs etc. With limited inbox capacity, one has to struggle with managing this spam. Why won't IT curb this practice or can't they?

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  • Good job Pulse has high morals and doesnt accept any pharma money

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  • Sorry Pharmacist, that is a misinterpretation as Pulse is a business and sells ads to pharma companies. If they did not earn on that I guess we wouldn't have free access to the magazine.

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  • You do know that Advisory Boards are not there for lobbying? They are there to seek advice.

    What about Private work physicians undertake - are they even conflicted with their obligations to the NHS?

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  • "Guardia"? What the dickens is this? The word "guardian" comes from an Anglo-Norman derivation. Therefore the plural of guardian is guardians. Who is this pretentious fool?

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  • Declaring conflicts of interest may have no impact. eg over 160 Lords have finaicial interests in private health firms, which they declared, but did not prevent them voting for increased use of private comapnies under the Health & Social Care Act. Likewise attendance by top NHSE officials at events sponsored by private firms lobbying for contracts, think all the woolly lobbying for consultancy work with the Sustainabiity & Transformatin Plans, will be fobbed off as 'invited speaker' 'paid for his own dinner' etc etc. The NHS and CCGs, who are easily flattered it seems, are having the wool pulled over our eyes.

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