Practices' accounts should be an 'open book'

GP practices should consider opening up their accounts to the public to ease conflict of interest fears as they commission and provide NHS services, according to the chairman of the NHS Alliance.

Speaking at a King's Fund event on commissioning in London last week, Dr Michael Dixon said this was his preferred solution for tackling conflicts of interest. But he admitted it is unlikely to prove popular with GPs or the private sector.

He said: 'Why not say that every provider in the NHS has a right to provide to the NHS and its patients, but you have to have open accounts? I would suggest this is a bold manoeuvre, but I hope I could sell it to GPs by saying: "At least everyone would be bound by this", and to the NHS by saying: "If we are going to have transparency, is there any other way?"'

Meanwhile, Ben Dyson, the DoH director of primary care, said the NHS should move away from a system that asks commissioning organisations to 'jump through lots of hoops' before they are given permission to buy services.

He said: 'We should devise a system that sets out what the rules are, gives consortia all the support they can be given in terms of guidance to enable them to live within those rules, allows them to make decisions and then intervenes if there is evidence that those rules have been broken.'

He said transparency should be the 'hallmark' of commissioning decisions to ensure commissioning does not become too bureaucratic.

Mr Dyson said: 'Without that transparency, it will increase the cause for people to build in lots of controls.'

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