Doctors responsible for commissioning services in north-west London may have a conflict of interest in private care providers, Labour MP Andy Slaughter warned yesterday.
The Hammersmith MP told the Star that a "nationwide" scandal is waiting to happen as many doctors sitting on clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in England could benefit from awarding contracts to private companies.
Under the government's NHS reforms groups of GPs sitting on CCGs will be responsible for commissioning or buying health and care services from April.
But Mr Slaughter revealed that four CCG chairs in NHS North-West London, as well as its medical director, have declared shareholding or directorship in out-of-hours GP service Harmoni.
Last year private health provider Care UK made five doctors millionaires when it bought out Harmoni, originally a GP-led co-operative, for £48 million.
Mr Slaughter wrote to the chief executive of NHS North-West London to find out if its four CCG chairs and medical director also benefitted from the Harmoni sale.
He received an evasive reply that read: "Any member who declares an interest in a meeting is expected to take no part in discussions and step out of the meeting."
But the MP said according to the Royal College of General Practitioners "it is not about excluding yourself from the room whenever there is a discussion, it is about how it will drive your decision-making overall."
NHS North-West London has recently been the subject of mass protests and campaigns to stop closures of four A&E departments at Ealing, Central Middlesex, Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals.
Mr Slaughter said: "It adds insult to injury if the individuals who are making the decisions to sell the land and to transfer services into the private sector are also the shareholders and owners or if they benefit in any other way."
NHS North-West London was unable to comment at the time of going to press.
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