Almost a quarter of the people in charge of commissioning care under the Tories' new NHS structure have financial interests in private health care, new research revealed today.
Doctors' magazine Pulse discovered that 23 per cent of the board members in new NHS clinical commissioning groups have interests in private healthcare providers supplying the NHS with diagnostics, minor surgery, locum GPs and out-of-hours services.
Department of Health commissioning tsar Dr James Kingsland suggested current guidelines were inadequate and board members with conflicting financial interests should consider stepping down.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: "David Cameron's reorganisation has left the NHS riddled with conflicts of interests and vulnerable to a huge loss of patient and public trust.
"He has handed over the NHS budget to people who stand to gain personally from the decisions they make without putting proper safeguards in place.
"In his bid to make the NHS a 'fantastic business' he has driven a coach and horses through public accountability.
"People will be alarmed. David Cameron has recklessly mixed medicine with the money motive and that could damage the bond of trust between doctors and patients on which the NHS is founded."
Mr Burnham added: "Labour renews its call that no individual should have any involvement in decisions in which they have, or could be seen to have, a financial interest.
"The government has previously rejected it but we consider it essential public trust in our country's most-valued institution is to be upheld. Ministers must think again on this and bring in tough new rules before April."
Pulse found 38 CCGs did not have a publicly available register of interests on their website - contrary to the NHS Commissioning Board's code of conduct.