Conflicts of interest
Conflicts of interest can arise in any healthcare setting.
In recognition of this, the GOsC and other health and care regulators released 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:
- 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.
- GOsC case scenario 1: Fee payment
- GOsC case scenario 2: Referrals
- General Chiropractic Council/General Dental Council case scenario: Competing interests and incentives
- General Medical Council case scenario: Dr Li and Banners Drug Ltd
- General Medical Council/General Pharmaceutical Council/Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland case scenario: Prescription direction
- Health and Care Professions Council case scenario: NHS and private treatment
Declaring conflicts of interest
The government response to the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review report was published in July 2021. Among other things, the government recommendations said they will ‘ensure it is a regulatory requirement that all registered healthcare professionals declare their relevant interests, and that this information is published locally at employer level'. Thus placing an emphasis on the importance of all health professionals declaring their interests and any conflicts to patients.
Osteopaths are asked to remind themselves about our guidance on conflicts of interests. D8 of the Osteopathic Practice Standards says: You must be honest and trustworthy in your professional and personal financial dealings’ (see below).
Osteopathic Practice Standards
There are two standards which might impact on conflicts of interest and their management. These are:
D1. You must act with honesty and integrity in your professional practice
Supporting guidance to D1 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.
D8. You must be honest and trustworthy in your professional and personal financial dealings
Supporting guidance to D8 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.