The NHS Commissioning Board (NHSCB) has published a new guide for CCGs regarding how to deal with potential or perceived conflicts of interest, which aims to help where GP practices are potential providers of CCG commissioned services.

This draft code of conduct sets out additional safeguards that CCGs are advised to use when commissioning services for which GP practices could be potential providers.

The document Towards establishment: Creating responsive and accountable CCGs which the NHSCB published in February, set out general safeguards that CCGs should have in place to manage conflicts of interest, including:

  • Arrangements for declaring interests
  • Maintaining a register of interests
  • Excluding individuals from decision-making where a conflict arises
  • Engagement with a range of potential providers on service design

Since then, the NHSCB has worked with emerging CCGs, national primary care organisations, the Competition and Cooperation Panel and other stakeholders to develop this draft code of conduct to provide more specific, additional safeguards where CCGs are commissioning services that could potentially be provided by GP practices. The code is being published to support CCGs in further developing their governance arrangements and to allow wider engagement on the proposals, which the Board can take into account in publishing statutory guidance later in the year.

The code sets out:

  • Additional factors that CCGS should address when drawing up plans for services that might be provided by GP practices
  • Steps that CCGS should take to assure others that these services are appropriately commissioned from GP practices
  • Recommended procedures for decision-making in cases where the majority of GPS (or other practice representatives) on the decision-making group have potential interest
  • Transparent arrangements for publishing details of payments to GP practices
  • The potential role of commissioning support services
  • The role of the NHSCB in supporting CCGs and providing assurance

This is an essential document for CCG leaders and those who want to understand the thinking that informs the new system.