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Warning over PBC conflicts of interest

By Steve Nowottny

PCTs must ensure any conflicts of interest within practice-based commissioning are ‘managed transparently', the government warned today.

New guidance published by the Department of Health clarified a range of ongoing issues relating to practice based commissioning.

PCTs were told to ‘ensure clear governance and accountability' in the commissioning process, particularly focusing on GPs with potential conflicts of interest. The guidance includes a list of possible conflicts that should be identified.

It follows a warning last week from NHS bosses that GPs could be taken to court by private providers or patients over conflict-of interest claims.

Today's document also restated the government's commitment to practice based commissioning, which it claims is ‘here to stay'.

But PCTs – who must develop a ‘menu of local flexibilities' to support commissioning priorities – were told the success or failure of the project lies with them.

‘It is up to PCTs to make sure that PBC succeeds – by making sure that their practices have their ‘fair share' of the budget and accurate and timely information on referrals and budgets,' the guidance states.

And PCTs were also warned against ‘double paying' GPs, by incentivising work already covered in the Quality and Outcomes Framework.

Potential conflicts of interest

A conflict of interest, in relation to PBC, as a minimum could be if the clinician:

- is a director of, has ownership of or part-ownership of, or is in the employment of, the body submitting the business case (including non-executive directorships)

- he is a partner of, or is in the employment of, or is a close relative of, a person who is a director of the body submitting the business case

- where the body is a practice, he is a close relative of the member of the practice

- he is a close relative of a person in the employment of the body submitting the business case

- he has a beneficial interest in the securities of the body submitting the business case

- he provides or has provided any services to that body submitting the business case

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