• Some 95 per cent of hospitals are failing to comply with conflict of interest rules
  • NHSE’s findings followed new rules on registers of interest introduced last year
  • The guidelines followed serious concerns about conflicts of interest in the NHS

Only 5 per cent of NHS hospital trusts published a register of interests for their senior staff despite it being a contractual obligation.

NHS England published new guidance in 2017 on clinical commissioning groups, NHS trusts and NHS foundation trusts about managing potential conflicts of interest.

Organisations should publish a register of interests for their key managers at least once a year. But a survey by NHS England, the topline findings of which were published on an NHS Improvement bulletin last week, found only 5 per cent of acute trusts complied with the contractual duty.

Community and mental health trusts performed better with one in five, or 20 per cent, of organisations publishing a register.

NHS England launched a consultation on its plans in 2016 aiming to crackdown on executives earning money from consultancy, advisory positions and honorariums by demanding they be declared.

At the time, NHS England chairman Malcolm Grant said the move was about delivering consistent transparency across the service.

The final guidance, published in February last year, said: “Every year, the taxpayer entrusts NHS organisations with over £110bn to care for millions of people. This money must be spent well, free from undue influence.”

It defined a conflict of interest as: “A set of circumstances by which a reasonable person would consider that an individual’s ability to apply judgement or act, in the context of delivering, commissioning, or assuring taxpayer funded health and care services is, or could be, impaired or influenced by another interest they hold.”

It added: “All staff should declare interests and, as a minimum, organisations should publish the interests of decision making staff at least annually in a prominent place on their website. Organisations without websites should maintain registers locally, available for inspection on request.”

The guidance was incorporated into the NHS Standard Contract.

NHS England was approached for comment.