We follow NHS England's statutory guidance for conflicts of interest. This is defined as:
“A set of circumstances by which a reasonable person would consider that an individual’s ability to apply judgement or act, in the context of delivering, commissioning, or assuring taxpayer-funded health and care services is, or could be, impaired or influenced by another interest they hold.”
We are responsible for commissioning healthcare services to improve the health and wellbeing of people in Kent and Medway.
As a body, we decide which services the people of Kent and Medway most need and pay local hospitals and other healthcare providers to provide these services.
In addition, we hold healthcare providers to account to ensure that they provide the services paid for.
Therefore, it is important to manage conflicts of interest to:
- protect the integrity of the decision-making processes and decisions
- avoid improper influence and prevent fraud
- ensure decisions are legal and can be defended in the case of a legal challenge
- fulfil our legal duty to look after public money
- ensure honesty, fairness, transparency and equality in the way we spend money
- ensure patients receive the best possible care.
We take our responsibility to manage conflicts of interest seriously and have an approved standards of business conduct policy.
The policy sets out how Board members, officers, staff, members and clinical leads should behave in their role.
It also sets out the steps and measures that we take to manage conflicts of interest.
An example of this is that the policy requires those people referred to above to declare any and all interests which may be, or may lead to, a conflict of interest.
The most common types of conflicts of interest include:
- direct financial interests
- indirect financial interests
- non-financial personal interests
- conflicts of loyalty.
An explanation of each of the types of conflicts of interest listed above can be found in the standards of business conduct policy.
When a conflict of interest is identified it should always be disclosed, as openness and transparency allows for conflicts and potential conflicts of interest to be assessed and managed. This includes publishing all conflicts of interest.
In most instances the individual with a conflict of interest will be removed from decision making on that particular issue.
In the rare instance that this is not possible, we manage the risk of improper or undue influence carefully.
This includes documenting how the conflict of interest has been assessed, controlled and managed.
Staff members are also required to tell their line manager and the compliance team about any conflict of interest they have or think they may have.
Potential conflict of interest scenarios are:
- gifts and hospitality received
- procurement/commissioning of a new service
- role or relationship which the public could perceive would impair or otherwise influence the individual’s judgment or actions in their role within our organisation and/or with NHS England
- roles and responsibilities held within member practices
- shareholdings (more than five per cent) of companies in the field of health and social care.
To further strengthen scrutiny and transparency of decision-making processes, we have appointed a Conflicts of Interest Guardian.
This role is undertaken by the Audit Committee Chair.
The role of the Conflicts of Interest Guardian is to work, in collaboration with the Company Secretary to:
- Act as a conduit for staff, members of the public and healthcare professionals who have any concerns with regards to conflicts of interest.
- Be a safe point of contact for employees or workers of the organisation to raise any concerns in relation to this policy.
- Support the rigorous application of conflicts of interest principles and policies.
- Provide independent advice and judgment where there is any doubt about how to apply conflicts of interest policies and principles in an individual situation.
- Provide advice on minimising the risks of conflicts of interest.
Whilst the Conflicts of Interest Guardian has an important role within the management of conflicts of interest, executive members of the organisation have an ongoing responsibility for ensuring the robust management of conflicts of interest, and all employees, board and committee members continue to have individual responsibility in playing their part on an ongoing and daily basis.
To contact our Conflicts of Interest Guardian, please mark your communication for the attention of Conflicts of Interest Guardian, and send by email to email@example.com or by post to:
NHS Kent and Medway
81 Station Road