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Conflicts of interest

Conflicts of interest can arise in any healthcare setting. In recognition of this, the GOsC, and other health and care regulators have made a joint statement setting out the expectations of health and social care professionals in relation to conflicts of interest.

The statement is intended to support the standards or code for each profession, and any specific guidance that they may issue in this respect. 

We expect health and social care professionals to: Osteopath greeting patient

  • Put the interests of people in their care before their own interests, or those of any colleague, business, organisation, close family member or friend.
  • Maintain appropriate personal and professional boundaries with the people they provide care to and with others.
  • Consider carefully where conflicts of interest may arise – or be perceived to arise – and seek advice if they are unsure how to handle this.
  • Be open about any conflict of interest they face, declaring it formally when appropriate and as early as possible, in line with the policies of their employer or the organisation contracting their services.
  • Ensure their professional judgement is not compromised by personal, financial or commercial interests, incentives, targets or similar measures.
  • Refuse all but the most trivial gifts, favours or hospitality if accepting them could be interpreted as an attempt to gain preferential treatment or would contravene your professional code of practice.
  • Where appropriate, ensure that patients have access to visible and easy-to-understand information on any fees and charging policies for which you are responsible.

Illustrative case scenarios

To illustrate some examples of conflicts of interest which might arise, and how these might be managed, each regulator has developed a case scenario or scenarios. 

Osteopathic Practice Standards

Osteopathic Practice StandardsThere are two standards which might impact on conflicts of interest and their management. These are:

D14 Act with integrity in your professional practice

Supporting guidance to D14 sets out some examples of ‘a lack of integrity in your practice’, including prolonging treatments, putting pressure on patients to purchase products, or recommending services for financial gain.

D15 Be honest and trustworthy in your financial dealings, whether personal or professional.

Supporting guidance to D15 provides ‘You may recommend products or services to patients only if, in your professional judgement, they will benefit the patient’, and ‘You should declare to your patients any financial or other benefit you receive for introducing them to other professional or commercial organisations. It also states that ‘you should not let such organisations use your name for promotional purposes.’

If you would like to discuss any of the issues outlined in the joint statement, or the case scenarios, then please contact standards@osteopathy.org.uk.