Newsflash: Managing Conflicts of Interest: Revised Statutory Guidance for CCGs Published

On 28 June 2016 NHS England published Managing Conflicts of Interest: Revised Statutory Guidance for CCGs.  The guidance is available here. It was first published in a draft form for discussion on 31 March 2016.

The guidance supersedes Managing Conflicts of Interest: Statutory Guidance for CCGs which was published in December 2014.

Key Changes

The key changes between the 2014 guidance and the revised guidance are as follows:

  • The recommendation for CCGs to have a minimum of three lay members on the governing body, in order to support conflicts of interest management;
  • The introduction of a conflicts of interest guardian in CCGs.  It is expected that CCG audit chairs will assume this role;
  •  The requirement for CCGs to include a robust process within their conflict of interest policy for managing any breaches and for anonymised details of any breach to be published on the CCG’s website for learning and development purposes;
  • Strengthened provisions around decision-making when a member of the governing body, or a committee or sub-committee is conflicted;
  • Strengthened provisions around the management of gifts and hospitality, including the need for a publicly accessible register of gifts and hospitality;
  • A requirement for CCGs to include an annual audit of conflicts of interest management within their internal audit plans and to include the findings of this audit within their annual end-of-year governance statement;
  • A requirement for all CCG employees, governing body and committee members and practice staff within involvement in CCG business to complete mandatory online conflicts of interest training, which will be provided by NHS England.

To support the implementation of the guidance, NHS England has published a number of template documents and also a series of two page summary guides for different professional groups.

Complying with the Guidance

CCGs must “have regard to” guidance published by NHS England on conflicts of interest (Section 14O(6) of the NHS Act 2006).  This means that a CCG must comply with the guidance unless it has good reasons for not doing so.

The guidance says that where a CCG has decided not to comply with one or more of the requirements of the guidance, NHS England expects this to be discussed with it in advance.  CCGs will be required to self-certify compliance with certain elements of the guidance on a quarterly and annual basis, respectively, with CCGs being expected to complete their self-certifications on a “comply or explain” basis.

In addition, each CCG will be required to undertake an annual internal audit on the management of conflicts of interest.

New Care Models

NHS England is intending to publish separate guidance later in 2016/17 to address developments in new care models and integrated care organisations that may cause particular challenges in relation to conflicts of interest.

How we can help

For more information and advice about this important area of CCG governance, please contact our specialist NHS governance team.