Hospital Dr News

Register of all doctors’ interests demanded

Doctors, health professionals and academics are calling on the GMC to set up a central registry of doctors’ competing interests.

Signed by 15 doctors and academics, the letter in the BMJ points out that citizens can access MPs’ central register of their financial conflicts of interest, yet patients cannot find out whether their doctor has a financial conflict of interest.

It says the current system of self declaration “is variable, opaque, and unreliable” and that “there is a need for change”.

The authors urge the GMC to consult on this, saying “this transparency can only be good for medical practice. It may cause discomfort for a few but would enhance trust in the profession as a whole.”

They invite doctors to register their declarations of interests publicly here and conclude: “We anticipate that, in time, a public declaration of interests will be seen as the right thing for all professionals to make.”

Financial incentives for doctors are currently receiving greater scrutiny.

In private healthcare, the Competition Commission recently criticised the practice of private hospitals paying clinicians bonuses for patient referrals – which encourages doctors to refer patients to their facilities for particular treatments and tests.

Also, at the end of last year, GlaxoSmithKline said it would stop paying doctors to promote its products through speaking engagements. The pharmaceuticals firm is making major changes to its incentive schemes following a damaging corruption scandal in China.

The Royal College of Physicians is supportive of more transparency around doctors’ interests.

President Sir Richard Thompson said recently: “The public needs to be confident that when healthcare professionals are speaking about medicines, they are not influenced by financial or other support from the company that produces those medicines.”

Read the full letter.

Bookmark and Share

One Response to “Register of all doctors’ interests demanded”

  1. Malcolm Morrison says:

    This sounds good ‘in principle’; but I wonder whether this proposal may be ‘a sledgehammer to crack a nut’! How big is the ‘problem’? I accept that, if an individual doctor is paid by a specific company to ‘promote’ its product, it is best if everyone knows this; but is this common? If one is writing a paper in a respectable journal about the benefits of certain treatments, it is altready necessary to have to ‘declare any interests’. I suspect that much of the pharmaceutical industry’s ‘payments’ are to ‘sponsor’ meetings (in exchange for a ‘stand’) I would like to believe that most (if not all) doctors have sufficient integrity to ‘evaluate’ the claims made on behalf of specific products.

    I find it interesting that doctors, who usually complain that there is ‘too much bureaucracy in medicine’, are now suggesting even more! Furthermore, many complain that the GMC is poor at ‘administering’ its present functions; yet now they wish to place this extra burden on them! (Though, if we are to have such a system, they are the obvious body to do so)

Post a Comment

Enter this security code

Submit Comment for Moderation