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Beware ‘sleepwalking’ into penalties, GPs warned

GPs are at risk of ‘sleepwalking' into heavy penalties as a result of conflicts of interest they hold when taking on commissioning roles, legal experts warn.

Consortia have been told they could face ‘crippling' fines and awards for damages if they fail to follow procurement rules.

The potential pitfalls facing consortia were outlined by Oliver Pritchard of legal firm Browne Jacobson, who told the Commissioning 2011 conference GPs risked ‘slurs on their professional reputation' by not fully understanding the rules.

LMCs earlier this month voted to come down hard on potential conflicts of interest on consortium boards, following two Pulse investigations showing consortium leaders were holding dual roles, one of which was cited during the debate.

Mr Pritchard said the main areas GPs needed to watch were public procurement, governance, safeguarding children and vulnerable adults, and stakeholder consultation: ‘Many GPs are setting up provider services as well as sitting on consortium boards, which can give rise to conflicts of interest. They could be held personally liable.'