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Regulatory bodies unite to crack down on conflicts of interest

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Ever been worried you're crossing the line? Ever been worried you're crossing the line?

Nurses must put the interests of the people in their care ahead of their own, according to new guidance from all medical statutory regulators in the UK.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) was joined by organisations such as the General Medical Council, the Health and Care Professions Council, and the General Pharmaceutical Council in publishing a joint statement cracking down on conflicts of interest.

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It urges nurses, along with other healthcare professionals, to ‘consider carefully where conflicts of interest may arise – or be perceived to arise – and seek advice if they are unsure how to handle this’.

While the standards and codes of all organisations related to conflicts of interest remain definitive, the statement is intended as a unifying baseline for standards.

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The statement reads: ‘We believe that given the increasing move towards multi-disciplinary teams, there is great value in working together for a consistent approach. We will promote this joint statement to our registrants, students, and to the public, to ensure they all know what we expect.

‘We will encourage all registrants to reflect on their own learning and continuing professional development needs regarding conflicts of interest. Conflicts can arise in situations where someone’s judgement may be influenced, or perceived to be influenced, by a personal, financial or other interest.’

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Overall, the new guidance expects health and social care professionals to:

  • Put the interests of people in their care before their own interests, or those of any colleague, business, organisation, close family member or friend.
  • Maintain appropriate personal and professional boundaries with the people they provide care to and with others.
  • Consider carefully where conflicts of interest may arise – or be perceived to arise – and seek advice if they are unsure how to handle this.
  • Be open about any conflict of interest they face, declaring it formally when appropriate and as early as possible, in line with the policies of their employer or the organisation contracting their services.
  • Ensure their professional judgement is not compromised by personal, financial or commercial interests, incentives, targets or similar measures.
  • Refuse all but the most trivial gifts, favours or hospitality if accepting them could be interpreted as an attempt to gain preferential treatment or would contravene your professional code of practice.
  • Where appropriate, ensure that patients have access to visible and easy-to-understand information on any fees and charging policies for which you are responsible.

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