Avoiding Conflicts of Interest

What is a conflict of interest?

A conflict of interest is circumstances that risk someone’s ability to apply judgement or act in one role being impaired or influenced by another interest they have.

There is potential for conflicts of interest in both the public (like the NHS and Council) and private sectors (businesses).  While it may not be reasonable or efficient to remove the risk of conflicts of interest entirely,  we have to recognise the risks and put measures in place to identify and manage conflicts if they arise.

Because they are also providers of local clinical services, GP commissioners are likely to have potential conflicts of interest.

All local GP practices are members of the CCG. Some GPs, along with other clinical experts, CCG officials and lay members, are members of our governing body. This means there is the potential for some GPs and their colleagues to make commissioning decisions about services they provide, or in which they have an interest. Where this is the case, there is a risk that commissioners could put, or people might think they put, personal interests ahead of patients’ interests.

Conflicts of interest are inevitable, but in most cases it is possible to handle them with integrity and probity by ensuring they are identified, declared and managed in an open and transparent way.

Why is it important to manage conflicts of interest?

The CCG has put in place robust arrangements to seek to manage conflicts when making commissioning decisions. These measures are outlined in our Standards of Business Conduct and Management of Conflict of Interest Policy. These measures aim to ensure decisions made by the CCG will be taken, and seen to be taken, uninfluenced by external or private interests.

The most common types of conflicts of interest include:

  • Financial interests;
  • Non-financial professional interests;
  • Non-financial personal interests;
  • Indirect interest

Conflict of Interest Guardian

To further strengthen scrutiny and transparency of CCG’s decision-making processes the CCG has an appointed Conflict of Interest Guardian.  This role is undertaken by Tim Render the CCG’s Integrated Governance & Audit Chair

Raising concerns and investigating breaches

All suspected or known breaches should be reported to the Conflicts of Interest Guardian, Chief Finance Officer o in the first instance.  All such notifications will be treated with appropriate confidentiality at all times in accordance with the CCG’s policies.

Conflict of Interests breach log

It is the duty of every CCG employee, governing body member, committee or sub-committee member and GP practice member to speak up about genuine concerns in relation to the administration of the CCG’s policy on conflicts of interest management, and to report these concerns.   The CCG is required to publish any breaches in relation to the CCG’s Conflicts of Interest Policy. There have been no reported breaches during 2016/17.

Gifts & Hospitality 

Any personal gift of cash or equivalents (such as gift vouchers, offers of remuneration to attend meetings whilst in a capacity working for or representing the CCG) must always be declined,   whatever their value and whatever their source, and the offer which has been declined should be reported to the Corporate Governance Team so this can be recorded on the register.

Gifts from suppliers or contractors:  

Gifts of low value (up to £6), such as promotional items, can now be accepted and do not need to be declared. However, all other gifts from suppliers or contractors must be declined and declared.

Gifts from other sources:  

Gifts of under £50 (rather than £10) can be accepted from non-suppliers and non-contractors, and do not need to be declared; and gifts with a value of over £50 can now be accepted on behalf of an organisation, but not in a personal capacity and must be declared.
 

Hospitality

Hospitality must only be accepted when there is a legitimate business reason and it is proportionate to the nature and purpose of the event.   Particular caution should be exercised when hospitality is offered by actual or potential suppliers or contractors, these can be accepted if modest and reasonable, but individuals should always obtain senior approval and declare these.

meals and refreshments

Hospitality under £25 can be accepted and does not need to be declared. Hospitality between £25 and £75 can be accepted, but must be declared. If the value of the hospitality is over £75, should be refused unless (in exceptional circumstances) senior approval is given. A clear reason should be recorded on the organisation’s register(s) of interest as to why it was permissible to accept.

A common sense approach should be applied to the valuing of meals and refreshments (using an actual amount, if known, or an estimate that a reasonable person would make as to its value).

Please refer to the CCG Standards of Business Conduct and Management of Conflict of interest Policy for full details.
 

You can find our Declaration of Interests & Gifts & Hospitality register  here. 

There have been no reported gifts/hospitality at during 2016/17

Declaration of interest records will be retained and disposed of appropriately and securely as specified in the CCG Corporate Records Management Standards and Procedural Policy.   Any request for historical information must be submitted to the CCG’s Chief Finance Officer.

Procurement and tendering procedures

The CCG recognises the importance in making decisions about the services it procures in a way that does not call into question the motives behind the procurement decision that has been made.  The CCG will procure services in a manner that is open, transparent, non-discriminatory and fair to all potential providers.

Conflicts of interest can arise in many situations, environments and forms of commissioning, with an increased risk in primary care commissioning, out-of-hours commissioning and involvement with integrated care organisations.  Conflicts of interest can arise throughout the whole commissioning cycle from needs assessment, to procurement exercises, to contract monitoring.

You can view the CCG’s Contract Database  along with the Primary Care Contracts Value List providing  the values for enhanced and other GP Commissioned Services.

Our Bribery Act statement can be found here.

References & Guidance