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RCS responds to NHS England guidance on tackling conflicts of interest

09 Feb 2017

NHS England is publishing new guidelines today aimed at strengthening the management of conflicts of interest and ensuring that the NHS is a world leader for transparent and accountable healthcare. The new guidance is due to take effect in June 2017.

The Royal College of Surgeons has welcomed NHS England’s decision to back away from plans to make healthcare professionals declare their private earnings - an issue the College objected to strongly when the guidelines were consulted on last year.

Commenting on the guidelines published today, Miss Clare Marx, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said:

“Most NHS staff go far beyond their contractual commitments to the health service. It was difficult to understand the ultimate goal of the original proposals on declaration of non-NHS income and it would have felt to staff that they are not trusted at a time when we need to be supporting them and recognising the enormous commitment of the workforce. Two-thirds of respondents opposed the move and we welcome this U-turn from NHS England.

“We generally support disclosure and transparency around non-NHS work providing any rules are proportionate. However, the originally proposed move was fraught with complications such as how you define non-NHS income. Current processes, such as job plans and appraisals, already allow clinical staff to discuss any issues with their employer about their outside interests.

“We have no objection to an individual disclosing on a register of interests the locations that they undertake work at. However, we remain worried that the overall proposals announced today will increase the level of bureaucracy in the NHS without a clear benefit to patients.”

Notes to editors

The Royal College of Surgeons of England is a professional membership organisation and registered charity, which exists to advance surgical standards and improve patient care.

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