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CCGs must publish register of all members’ and employees’ interests after bill amendment

Clinical commissioning groups will have to publish a register of members’ and employees’ interests under new amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill agreed in the House of Lords.

Health minister Earl Howe accepted four amendments from Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Barker aimed at quelling fears of conflicts of interest between GPs commissioner and provider roles but rejected a longer one from Labour.

The main amendment accepted specifies that each CCG must maintain one or more registers of the interests of its members, the members of its governing body, the members of its committees or sub-committees or of committees or sub-committees of its governing body and its employees.

CCGs will have to publish the registers or make arrangements to ensure that members of the public have access to them on request.

In addition, the NHS Commissioning Board will have to publish guidance for CCGs on conflicts of interest and on the register itself.

Proposing the amendments, Baroness Barker told the Lords: ‘I believe it is important not only that members of the public have faith in the integrity of the decisions being made by CCGs but that members of the professions believe in those decision-making processes and feel able to participate in them.

‘They should also have the protection of good governance and good conflict-of-interest policies to enable them to carry out what will be a difficult role.

Accepting the amendments, Earl Howe said: ‘In placing a new duty on the board to issue guidance on conflicts, the board can build towards establishment and set out unequivocally the expectations of CCGs in how they should manage conflicts of interest and hold CCGs to account.

‘I would also expect the guidance to reinforce the existing GMC guidelines, making clear to CCG members their accountability to the board and the GMC.’

The bill is at the report stage in the House of Lords.

Dr David Jenner, a member of the NHS Alliance and a GP in Cullompton, Devon said the amendment was ‘immaterial’.

‘It´s pretty obvious that a register of some sort is needed. We already have one on our shadow board locally.”

He added that the bill had been so much amended that it no longer made sense: “I´m not sure anyone knows what it still means,’ he said.