GPs' shares in private firms raise alarm

Swathes of senior GPs stand to profit from the Government's contentious NHS reforms through shares they hold in private medical companies, research has found, raising further concerns about potential conflicts of interest within the health system.

A study looking into the board members of around 50 of the new clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) – the bands of GPs who will be responsible for running local health services in England from April next year – found that in 22 of them at least half of the doctors had financial interests in private health firms. In some cases, this was true of all of the GPs on a board.

The research, carried out by the pressure group False Economy, presents the prospect of GPs outsourcing £60bn of NHS services in their local areas to profit-making firms they are involved with.

The investigation led the Royal College of GPs to warn that patients "might mistrust where they are being sent to for treatment and the GPs' motives".

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "There will be a requirement for clinicians to declare and publish potential conflicts of interest and for CCGs to ensure transparency and integrity of their decision making."

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