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Health service staff to face sanctions under ‘sunshine rule’, says Hunt

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NHS staff who fail to disclose payments and hospitality received from drug suppliers and medical device makers will be sanctioned under new regulation, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.

NHS providers and commissioners will have to keep a log of payments, gifts and hospitality offered to staff from pharmaceutical companies in a bid to ensure relationships with suppliers are above board.

The transparency, or “sunshine”, rule requiring organisations to keep the records will be written into the 2016-17 NHS standard contract, a Department of Health spokesman said.

“These tough new rules will, for the first time, expose improper relationships between staff and pharmaceutical companies”

Jeremy Hunt

It is unclear what sanctions organisations could face if they do not comply.

The move follows a recommendation by Lord Carter’s review into NHS productivity that an English equivalent to the US “Sunshine Act” be introduced.

The American law requires all medical devices and supplies companies to report financial relationships with doctors and institutions, to uncover potential conflicts of interest.

Any member of NHS staff found not to be complying with the new disclosure rules will be subject to sanctions decided by their employer, the DH confirmed.

The government has stopped short of introducing new legislation. Individuals can already be prosecuted under existing legislation if they are found to have improperly accepted money from third parties.

Acts of bribery or fraud by people and companies are already covered Bribery Act 2010 and the Fraud Act 2006. Someone found guilty under the Bribery Act faces up to 10 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

The Human Medicines Regulations 2012 prohibit offering any gifts in connection with the promotion of medicines to anybody qualified to supply or prescribe them.

Anybody convicted of an offence under these regulations faces a fine and up to two years imprisonment.

Speaking at the weekend, Mr Hunt said: “These tough new rules will, for the first time, expose improper relationships between staff and pharmaceutical companies.

“Only those serving their own self-interest should have anything to fear, with patients and taxpayers set to benefit,” he said.

“The Sunshine rule will come into force next year, and NHS organisations will have to maintain a hospitality register where staff will have to declare all gifts and hospitality they receive from pharmaceutical firms and medical devices manufacturers,” he added.

  • 11 Comments

Readers' comments (11)

  • HCSW

    This is a very, very important piece of legislation and should be welcomed

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  • Does this include the free pens??

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  • This should be extended to commercial research projects that 'reward' patients to enter trials. Not by penalising patients, but by preventing big pharma bribing patients

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  • Removed due to offensive content. Please refer to this site's terms and conditions before posting further:<br/>http://www.nursingtimes.net/terms-and-conditions/

  • I look forward to Jeremy and his colleagues following suit - perhaps by listing their commercial interests on their websites, alongside details of their voting records.
    It shouldn't take an investigative journalist to find out and publish this information

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  • One for and four against , we all have to declare this to the tax man don't we ? why should anyone be exempt ?
    Yes, this also applies to Politions.

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  • Let's get real here. This legislation is primarily aimed our medical colleagues in most specialisms including hospital and community who've been accepting grace and favour 'incentives' and 'rewards' ?? of all descriptions for many decade without any auditing or accounting. Nurses simply don't figure in the pharmaceutical companies radar as we're not the main prescribers or influencers of bulk purchasing. Keep your pens, lanyards and pads, this law isn't aimed at that trivia.

    I've lost count of the conferences I've been to over the years, mostly self funded, sometimes presenting, but otherwise having to beg my employer for even a minor contribution, only to find my local consultant at the same conference having flown first class and staying in a five star hotel funded by - yes you guessed it, a large pharmaceutical company.

    Full marks to Jeremy Hunt for attempting to take on this unwritten and often unspoken about culture. I just hope vested interests don't close ranks and prevent its implementation.

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  • HCSW

    @ Anonymous | 25-Aug-2015 4:48 pm

    You've managed to describe the problem perfectly. Cheers.

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  • HCSW | 26-Aug-2015 10:04 am

    gruesome avatar. is the NHS really that bad?

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  • HCSW

    I like it :-)

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