Conflict of interest over health payments?

Buckingham town councillor Jon Harvey
Buckingham town councillor Jon Harvey

Concerns have been raised over local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) members who have a financial interest in one of the firms they commission.

Six members of the group’s 19-strong governing body, which is responsible for buying healthcare services in Aylesbury Vale, have shares in Vale Health - a local healthcare provider.

Another two members of the governing body used to own shares in the firm, but sold them last year.

Buckingham town councillor Jon Harvey said: “I understand that when critical purchasing decisions are made, sometimes people have to step outside the room to avoid an obvious conflict of interest at that point.

“But I think we should also be thinking about all the microscopic decisions that are taken by a strategic team and other bodies.

“Defenders of this system will say that these are big decisions that need a big inclusive ‘tent’ to help shape them.

“I agree, but I just don’t see why people who are already well paid to make decisions on behalf of the public, should need to benefit personally on top of this.

“And the real danger in all of this is that decision will be made that are more about the financial interests if a few and less about the health of the many.”

Vale Health was established in 2006 as a for-profit company.

The firm provides a range of services, and in 2012 merged with Chiltern Health, with a view to expanding the reach of the business. One member of the CCG’s governing body also holds shares in Chiltern Vale Health, the merged company.

A spokesman for NHS Aylesbury Vale CCG, said: “NHS Aylesbury Vale CCG takes very seriously its role in ensuring a transparent approach to the governance of its commissioning decision making. The governing body meets in public and dates of meetings are advertised on our website.