GP providers ruled out by CCGs over competition fears

Competition regulations are frightening CCGs into ruling out commissioning services from GP providers, a leading health solicitor has warned.

Westminster event: conflict of interest fears raised
Westminster event: conflict of interest fears raised

Oliver Pritchard, head of commercial health at Browne Jacobson health lawyers said some CCGs are completely ruling out organisations where GPs are involved over conflict of interest fears.

Speaking to GP after speaking at a Westminster Health Forum seminar on competition on 5 September, he said: ‘That in my view is crazy, that is going way too far. It's way too risk averse and defensive. Because quite often the local GP provider groups will be the best people to provide the services.’

He said there are certain safeguards CCGs can put in place to ensure they are not accused of foul play.

‘It is about making sure you’ve followed through the process, you have set out objective criteria and assessed them in a way which doesn’t give rise to conflict of interest,’ he said.

CCGs can co-opt members from health and wellbeing boards or neighbouring CCGs to vote in cases where conflicts of interest arise, he said.

‘They can get clinical input but not from the providers who directly have the conflicts of interest,’ he said.

‘I have had it with my clients where all the clinicians on the governing body have had to get up and walk out of the room because they have all got a conflict of interest.

‘The topic we get asked most about from CCGs is conflicts of interest and probably procurement second.

‘They [CCGs] are all writing their conflicts policies at the moment.

‘On balance, the bigger issue is that there are still quite a large proportion of CCGs that don’t properly think through how to manage the conflicts and they do the opposite, and they do award those sorts of contracts and they are exposing themselves to criticism and potential legal challenge.’

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