Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Worry in NHS over Declared Interests

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Worry in NHS over Declared Interests

Article excerpt

Byline: Helen Rae Health Reporter? 0191 201 6269 ?

ALMOST half of the members in the new organisations that will commission North East NHS services have declared a conflict of interest, an investigation has revealed.

GP-led clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are an integral part of the new National Health Service structure and will take over local NHS budgets from the beginning of next month.

But a study by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has reported that half of the board members in the region who will buy patient services have a conflict of interest, due to issues such as shares held in private companies or directorships.

The 12 CCG groups in the region, which are to replace local Primary Care Trusts, will take care of the NHS budget for services in the North East. They will be responsible for planning and commissioning hospital, community health and mental health services on behalf of the local population.

Following Freedom of Information Requests and analysis of CCGs' websites, the authors of the BMJ investigation found that in the North East, 86 of the 169 board members have declared a conflict of interest.

Union leaders have expressed concern at those numbers, but health bosses have insisted that safeguards are in place.

Glenn Turp, Royal College of Nursing Northern Region's Director said: "This BMJ survey reveals the true extent to which potential conflicts of interest have been allowed to develop in our NHS, and it is extremely significant and far-reaching.

"I believe it is unacceptable and unreasonable for those who are purchasing services for patients to have connections with private healthcare companies who are providing those services.

"The list is extensive and makes it clear that the public's local health services are now being purchased for them by people who have direct financial interests in private healthcare companies. …

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