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Conflict of interest rules must not hold back primary care expansion, say NHSCC leaders

The rules and regulations around conflict of interest for GPs must not hold back the shifting of services into primary care, say the interim president and chair of NHS Clinical Commissioners (NHSCC).

Speaking at yesterday’s NHS Alliance annual conference in Bournemouth, NHSCC interim chair, Dr Charles Alessi, said it was an ‘interesting phase’ at the moment, regarding conflicts of interests.

‘We’ve inevitably overshot the mark in terms of assurance’ he said and added the ‘balance’ between delivery and assurance over conflict of interest needs to be looked at again.

NHS Alliance chair and interim NHS president, Dr Mike Dixon, echoed Dr Alessi’s views and said while conflicts of interest have to be managed, ‘historically, we’ve probably been over-cautious  managing those conflicts which is why there hasn’t been an incentive that’s been effective to move enough services from hospitals into general practice when they should have.’

The message from the NHS Commissioning Board however was that the systems in place regarding GP conflict of interest, were necessary.

Ian Dalton, chief operating officer of the NHS Commissioning Board the importance of getting off on a good footing regarding conflict of interest shouldn’t be underestimated.

He said: ‘This is a system spending billions of pounds of public money’.

He added: ‘It’s actually a strength of English general practice that the people who are in a providing relationship with patients are also the people that then influence the commissioning decisions. ‘There’s nothing at all wrong with people who are commissioners also being providers in relation to the role of the general practitioner but we do need some systems round that and I think it’s important, in my own judgement, that we start off in a way which gives credibility to the people making the resource allocation decisions.’