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Advice Line: conflict of interest at work

Pip White unravels what might constitute a conflict of interest at work.

New NHS England guidance on managing conflicts of interest comes into effect on 1 June.  See the website here.  The guidance applies to all clinical commissioning groups and NHS trusts. The guidance is recommended for all independent and private service providers in England and will affect every CSP member in England who works in NHS services, as well as those employed in NHS services who also hold other employment and those doing private clinical work in addition to NHS work. The CSP recommends that all members read the new guidance. 
 
We all like to attend sponsored lunches as part of continuing professional development, patients like to express their gratitude for good care and we all like to be appreciated for our efforts. These can all give rise to actual or perceived conflicts of interest. NHS England is determined to ensure such conflicts are managed consistently in all NHS services, and to provide simple advice to NHS workers on what to do in common situations. 
 
From 1 June, hospitality should be declared and all hospitality over £75 should be refused, except in exceptional circumstances with special approval. Similarly, all gifts valued at more than £50 must be declared. All cash and voucher gifts should be refused without exception. All outside employment must be declared. Clinical private practice is considered separately to other employment and needs to be individually declared. The guidance also covers charitable donations and fund-raising, sponsorships, patents and loyalty interests, for example. NHS England is implementing this by changing the statutory rules affecting NHS organisations. Locally, this is likely to mean that organisations will review and update their existing registers of interest, and you may be asked to formally declare the interests you hold. Conflict of interest clauses may form part of your employment contract with an NHS organisation and you should check what your contract says.
 
If you need further help, contact your CSP workplace steward if you are employed in the NHS, or email enquiries@csp.org.uk 
 
  • Pip White is a CSP professional adviser
 

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