Intended for healthcare professionals


Conflicts of interest within England’s NHS

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 03 April 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j1590
  1. Iona Heath, retired general practitioner,
  2. Kate Adlington, clinical editor, The BMJ
  1. iona.heath22{at}

New NHS guidance is overshadowed by uncontrolled conflicts within government

On 7 February 2017 NHS England issued guidance on Managing Conflicts of Interest in the NHS.1 The guidance will come into force on 1 June. Along with the publication of similar guidance for clinical commissioning groups last summer,2 it suggests a genuine commitment at the highest level within the NHS to pursue a culture of increased transparency.

However, in the UK at least, the onus has so far been on individual clinicians to declare their conflicts of interest voluntarily. There has been less focus on the responsibilities of healthcare organisations to minimise the opportunities for conflict or on the role of professional bodies in regulating this area.

The new NHS guidance brings clarity to issues such as acceptable values of gifts and hospitality, and when and how to declare private practice. It also attempts to address the complicated issue of non-financial interests, including loyalty interests. Yet several important concerns remain.

The guidance is supposed to ensure that the more …

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