Conflicts of Interest

What is a conflict of interest?

The NHS England “Managing Conflicts of Interest: Revised Statutory Guidance for CCGs” June 2017 Guidance on Managing Conflicts of Interest states that : “A conflict of interest is defined as ‘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”.

A potential for competing interests and / or a perception of impaired judgement or undue influence can also be a conflict of interest.

There is potential for conflicts of interest in both the public (like the NHS and Local Authority) and private sectors (businesses).  While it may not be reasonable or efficient to remove the risk of conflicts of interest entirely, we must recognise the risks and put measures in place to identify and manage conflicts if they arise.

The ICB recognises that conflicts of interest are unavoidable and therefore has in place arrangements to seek to manage them. The measures outlined in our policy are aimed at ensuring that decisions made by the ICB will be taken, and be seen to be taken, uninfluenced by external or private interests.

How do we manage conflicts of interest?

NHS Humber and North Yorkshire ICB (the ICB) is required to make arrangements to manage conflicts of interest. The ICB takes its responsibility seriously and has a Conflicts of Interest Policy; details can be found here. This policy is in line with the updated Conflict of Interest Guidance published by NHS England which came into force in June 2017.

The policy applies to members of the ICB and members of, and attendees at, its committees and subcommittees and all ICB employees and describes how the ICB will manage conflicts arising in meetings and as part of wider ICB activities such as how it engages clinicians, or other representatives of provider organisations for the purpose of advising it on its activities.

In addition to the arrangements set out in this policy, the ICB will embody public service values and principles in all its business transactions as outlined in the Code of Conduct and Behaviours (Standards of Business Conduct Policy); details can be found here.

Conflict of Interest Guardian

To further strengthen scrutiny and transparency of the ICBs decision-making processes the ICB’s Non-Executive Director for Audit, who is also the Audit Committee Chair, has been appointed as the ‘Conflict of Interest Guardian’ with specific responsibilities as set out in the Conflict of Interest policy.

Conflict of Interest Register

The ICB is required to publish all declarations of interest for individuals deemed as ‘decision makers’ at least annually. Information about ICB staff’s declarations of interest are published here.

Raising concerns and investigating breaches

It is the duty of each individual (ICB employee, ICB member, committee or sub-committee member) to speak up about genuine concerns in relation to the administration of the ICB’s policy on Conflicts of Interest management. If an individual has any such concerns, they should not ignore such suspicions or investigate the matter themselves.

Any NHS Humber and North Yorkshire ICB employee, ICB member, committee or sub-committee member should also refer to the ICB’s Raising Concerns Whistleblowing Policy, details of which can be found here.

Concerns about the management of Conflicts of Interest should be raised with the Senior Governance Lead and / or the Conflicts of Interest Guardian.

Providers, patients and other third parties can make a complaint to NHS England in relation to a commissioner’s conduct under the Procurement Patient Choice and Competition Regulations.

All suspected or known breaches are required to be reported to the Conflicts of Interest Guardian in the first instance.  All such notifications will be always treated with appropriate confidentiality in accordance with the CCG’s policies.

An anonymised record of any breaches of the Conflicts of Interest policy will be made available on the ICB’s website. There are currently no breaches to report; details will be reported here when available.  

Gifts and Hospitality

The ICB maintains a register of gifts and hospitality and robust processes are in place to ensure individuals do not accept gifts, hospitality or other benefits which might reasonably be seen to compromise their professional judgement or integrity. The register will be reviewed by the Audit Committee at least annually with an assurance report provided annually to the ICB. All individuals need to consider the risks associated with accepting gifts, hospitality, or other benefits, particularly during procurement exercises. The acceptance of gifts could give rise to real or perceived conflicts of interests or accusations of unfair influence, collusion, or canvassing.

Click here for the NHS Humber and North Yorkshire ICB gifts and hospitality register.

Declarations in relation to Procurement

The ICB recognises the importance in making decisions about the services it procures in a way that does not call into question the motives behind the procurement decision that has been made.

The ICB has published a Procurement Policy which includes specific reference to conflicts of interest. The Procurement Policy makes reference to:

  • Arrangements to ensure that relevant stakeholders, together with local members of the public, are engaged in the decision-making processes used to design and redesign services.
  • Service redesign and procurement processes are conducted in an open, transparent, non-discriminatory, and fair way.

The ICB is prohibited by law from awarding any contract where the integrity of the procurement process or the award has been, or appears to have been, affected by a conflict of interest.

The ICB maintains a register of procurement decisions which can be accessed by clicking here