A London clinical commissioning group has said it has acted to address a “potential conflict of interest” in relation to a member of its governing body and a possible £196,000 procurement deal.
Kingston CCG is in discussion with a company which was launched by Mike Chester, who is the secondary care clinician representative on its governing body, about a possible one-year pilot for an angina care scheme.
The CCG said contracting of the company, Virtual Angina, was being considered for the pilot. It said if the firm was contracted, an estimated £86,000 of the £196,000 cost of the proposed pilot would be borne by the company.
No decision has yet been taken on whether the project will go ahead.
A CCG spokeswoman said Virtual Angina had been in contact with Kingston Primary Care Trust since 2007 in relation to the plan. It said a contract for the pilot had not and would not be tendered “as this is a pilot project”, and that no other companies had applied to carry out the work.
The spokeswoman added it was estimated the project would deliver gross savings of £444,000. She said: “Virtual Angina are being considered for the pilot as they are recognised as providing a unique and effective model of service in a complex clinical area.”
The CCG said “full interests in this area were declared in advance of the selection process” for its governing body. It said: “Procedures are much more comprehensive than they were for the PCT. We’ve met all requirements of the [national CCG] authorisation process and we continue to review the [handling of interests] process in light of more recent guidance from NHS England.”
Local media last month reported the CCG board’s nurse member Vanessa Lodge saying in a public meeting that Kingston was “not clear yet about our policy on conflicts of interest”.
Asked if this was still the case, or if Ms Lodge’s comment was wrong, Kingston CCG spokeswoman said only that: “We do have clear processes for managing conflicts of interest.”
The CCG also defended its decision to give a board position to Professor Chester in spite of the commercial dialogue, which has been in process for six years.
In a statement it said: “Professor Chester is extremely well qualified, as a cardiologist, general physician and a leading figure nationally in patient-centred care.
“We were well aware of the potential conflict of interest before he was appointed, but had no definite plans to proceed with this proposal and considered that the challenges of ensuring checks and balances were in place to manage such issues were greatly outweighed by the benefits that his involvement would bring.”
A spokeswoman for Virtual Angina said: “Professor Chester declared interests at all times in-line with professional guidance and followed the relevant CCG procedures around managing conflicts of interest. His appointment to the board was on the basis of his expertise and experience across a wide range of areas, including patient-centred care, and the benefits his involvement would bring for patients in the borough.”