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Conflict of interest concern for GPs

5 April 2013

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Concerns have been raised over conflict of interest in CCGs in a poll of more than 1,000 primary healthcare professionals. 

Concerns have been raised over conflict of interest in CCGs in a poll of more than 1,000 primary healthcare professionals. 

The survey showed that close to two-thirds of practice managers and GPs see conflict of interest as the biggest concern in the introduction of CCGs. 
Membership organisation the Medical Protection Society (MPS) has called for “clear and robust” governance to ensure conflicts are dealt with openly and “stand up to public scrutiny”. 
Published in MPS’ new publication Practice Matters, the survey also showed close to 80% of primary healthcare professionals are concerned about budget restrictions. 
'Clear systems'
Dr Richard Stacey, medicolegal adviser at the healthcare indemnity organisation and editor-in-chief of Practice Matters said GPs have been expressing these concerns for months. 
“MPS has always had concerns that CCGs could place GPs in a potentially challenging position of being not just the patient advocate but also the budget holder and we believe this leaves GPs vulnerable to accusations of conflicting interests,” he said. 
Dr Stacey added: “CCGs must put clear systems in place to ensure real and perceived conflicts of interest are dealt with in an open way to protect the patient-doctor relationship.”
British Medical Association (BMA) chair Dr Mark Porter questioned whether a GP who has financial interests should be part of a CCG governing body. 
Dr Porter said: "It is important that everyone involved in the commissioning process understands clearly how to act if they are faced with any situation that could result in a conflict of interest.
“While the vast majority of GPs have no involvement or connections with private sector companies, the BMA has repeatedly called for strong measures that guard against possible conflicts of interest during the newly formed commissioning process."
Improved care
The survey showed that opinion is split over whether the introduction of CCGs will improve patient care (29%) or worsen patient care (27%). 
Just 2% more of those polled believe care will improve rather than worsen and 15% said it would not make a difference.  
More than 65% of those polled think time constraints will also become a problem. 

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