The Ethical Standards in Health and Life Sciences Group (ESHLSG) has launched a consultation on establishing a public register of payments made to healthcare professionals by commercial organisations.
Healthcare professionals and commercial organisations often collaborate as a means to enhance patient care through scientific research, clinical trials and supporting medical education, amongst others. This relationship is important to drive the advancement of quality products and technologies which meet the needs of doctors effectively, but strict guidelines exist to maintain integrity and ethical practice between both parties.
Concerns still exist over the transparency of these relationships, which would allow more strict policing of improper practice, so in June 2012 the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), the European representative body of the pharmaceutical industry, announced a desire to disclose financial relationships between healthcare professionals and companies, hoping to start in 2016 for payments made in 2015.
The success of the initiative would depend on a partnership across all stakeholders in healthcare, including the life sciences industry, the NHS and professional bodies, as well as the commercial sector.
The ESHLSG considers this a pressing issue, and is working to understand the opinions and needs of all parties to make the process as simple and effective as possible. The implementation of such a register, which would be centrally hosted by only one body across Europe, would allow more awareness amongst the public and enhance integrity.
Transparency within healthcare has been highlighted as an increasingly important issue recently, as the Frances Report revealed a lot of whistle-blowers had been ignored and intimidated, or paid off to desist with their complaints.
The Francis Report proposed recommendations to make it a criminal offence to hide information about poor care and to be completely candid with patients, and the proposal by the ESHLSG is another step towards a completely candid manner of practice.
The ESHLSG is actively seeking views from all members of the healthcare community which will inform how the system of declaration would work.
For more information on the ESHLSG’s ‘Establishing a register of payments received by UK healthcare professionals from commercial organisations’, visit: www.rcoa.ac.uk/news-and-bulletin/rcoa-news-and-statements/public-disclosure-of-payments-health-professionals-%E2%80%93-have
To access the survey, visit www.eshlsg.org and click to take the survey.