The GMC has recently issued a joint statement together with other regulators overseen by the Professional Standards Authority on handling conflicts of interest.
The guidance sets expectations for doctors in relation to avoiding, declaring and managing actual or potential conflicts of interest.
A conflict of interest can occur when someone’s judgement might be influenced, or perceived to be influenced by personal, financial or other interest.
The GMC expect doctors to put the interest of people in their care before their own interests, or those of any colleague, business, organisation, close family member or friend.
To maintain appropriate personal and professional boundaries with the people they provide care to and with others.
To consider carefully where conflicts of interest may arise or be perceived to arise and seek advice if you are unsure how to handle the situation
To be open about any conflict of interest you may face, declare it formally when appropriate and as early as possible in line with the policy of your employer or organisation contracting services.
Ensure your professional judgement is not compromised by personal, financial or commercial interest, incentives, targets or similar measures.
Refuse all but the most trivial gifts, favours or hospitality if by accepting them it could be interpreted as an attempt to gain preferential treatment or would contravene your professional Code of Practice
Where possible, ensure that patients have access to visible easy to understand information on any fees and charging policies for which you are responsible
There are scenarios where a conflict of interest is clearly recognisable but often Doctors feel they are acting without bias but their judgements and actions may be influenced by a conflict of interest. Various relationships between doctors and other entities are often important for many reasons however if a conflict does arise doctors should be honest and open about those relationships and connections.
Doctors should be able to recognise a conflict and ensure that the patient’s best interest remains paramount. They should further be aware of any potential damage to the reputation of the profession by the appearance of a conflict even though no such conflict may exist.
If you are a doctor who has been referred to the GMC because of issues relating to a conflict of interest we can help.
We also provide training in conflict of interest, professional boundaries and the Bribery Act.