COMMERCIAL: The governing body of Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning group was unable to take a decision on its contract for GP out-of-hours services because too many of its GP members had to leave the meeting due to conflicts of interest.

In April, the governing body was presented with an options paper on whether to extend or re-tender its contract with East Lancashire Medical Services, which was due to expire in December 2013.

The meeting considered the options and agreed to support a proposal to extend the contract for 21 months.

However, minutes state that CCG chairman Joe Slater then “informed the meeting that, due to the number of GP executive members who had left due to their conflict of interest associated with this item, the meeting was no longer quorate and a decision could not be taken”.

According to the minutes, three members had declared an interest and left the meeting before discussion of the contract.

These were executive members Zaki Patel and Pervez Muzaffar and the CCG’s clinical director for quality and effectiveness Malcolm Ridgway.

The minutes state that in light of the governing body’s inability to take the decision the CCG’s chairman and its clinical chief officer would “act on behalf of the governing body in line with discussions at the meeting and consider the recommendation of the preferred option”.

A spokeswoman for the commissioning group told HSJ that, in line with NHS England guidance, the chair and clinical chief officer considered their final recommendation following the meeting. They recommended the contract was extended and a voluntary ex-anti transparency notice issued.

Such notices signal an intent to award a contract, effectively inviting a legal challenge to it proceeding. The recommendation was ratified at a later meeting.