NHS England has published new guidelines on managing conflicts of interest. The guidance will come into force on 1 June 2017. It will be applicable to Clinical Commissioning Groups, NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts, and NHS England.

The guidance covers common situations which can give rise to risk of conflicts of interest including gifts, hospitality and providing expertise outside employment, by:

  • introducing consistent principles and rules for managing conflicts of interest;
  • providing simple advice to staff and organisations about what to do in these common situations; and
  • supporting good judgement about how interests should be approached and managed.

Organisations should require staff to comply with the guidance and to proactively declare interests. An organisation will consider a range of actions from deciding no action is warranted to removing an individual from their role altogether if the conflict is so significant that they are unable to operate effectively in it.

The NHS England guidance has been aligned with The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) Code of Practice, particularly as it relates to the principles and rules for gifts and hospitality. Organisations are also required to seek to ensure that staff are subject to wider transparency initiatives such as the ABPI’s Disclosure UK.

Disclosure UK, launched in June 2016, is a searchable database detailing transfers of values made to healthcare professionals and healthcare organisations by pharmaceutical companies. The database is the means by which UK pharmaceutical companies comply with their transparency obligations under the ABPI Code of Practice.