• Chief executive of NHSX Matthew Gould sends warning email to staff 
  • Contractors could be asked to leave immediately if conflicts of interest not declared 
  • “High standard decision making” should not fall short because of coronavirus, according to Mr Gould

Private sector IT experts drafted in to help the NHS address the coronavirus pandemic “will be asked to leave immediately” if they exploit their position “for personal or corporate gain”, the chief executive of NHSX has warned.

In an email seen by HSJ, chief executive of NHSX Matthew Gould, warned staff that “the immediate crisis” does not mean “the suspension of high standard and robust, defensible decision making”.

He said contractors have been drafted in by NHSX to support the national response to coronavirus, providing “new capabilities, skill and capacity”.

However, he added that the “challenges” associated with working with contractors needed to be “carefully managed” — and all should declare any conflicts of interest, or risk losing their jobs.

The email said: “Firstly all contractors must have completed a conflict of interest form.

“Secondly, they need to be clear with their NHSX managers whenever they are involved in the selection of a product with which they or their company have an interest or a relationship, and a conscious decision should be taken either to allow the work to proceed, or for the contractor to recuse themselves.”

Mr Gould told staff to raise any concerns with senior management if they fear a conflict of interest may have been exploited.

He added: “If we found a conflict has been exploited for personal or corporate gain, the contractor or company would be asked to leave immediately.

“I hope this underlines the seriousness with which I take this issue”.

A spokesman for NHSX said: “The email was sent out to reinforce best practice and not in response to an incident”.