How are declarations of interest working? A cross-sectional study in declarations of interest in healthcare practice in Scotland and England in 2020/2021
Mccartney M., Bergeron Hartman R., Feldman H., Macdonald R., Sullivan F., Heneghan C., Mccutcheon C.
Objective To understand arrangements for healthcare organisations' declarations of staff interest in Scotland and England in the context of current recommendations. Design Cross-sectional study of a random selection of National Health Service (NHS) hospital registers of interest by two independent observers in England, all NHS Boards in Scotland and a random selection of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in England. Setting NHS Trusts in England (NHSE), NHS Boards in Scotland, CCGs in England, and private healthcare organisations. Participants Registers of declarations of interest published in a random sample of 67 of 217 NHS Trusts, a random sample of 15 CCGs of in England, registers held by all 14 NHS Scotland Boards and a purposeful selection of private hospitals/clinics in the UK. Main outcome measures Adherence to NHSE guidelines on declarations of interests, and comparison in Scotland. Results 76% of registers published by Trusts did not routinely include all declaration of interest categories recommended by NHS England. In NHS Scotland only 14% of Boards published staff registers of interest. Of these employee registers (most obtained under Freedom of Information), 27% contained substantial retractions. In England, 96% of CCGs published a Gifts and Hospitality register, with 67% of CCG staff declaration templates and 53% of governor registers containing full standard NHS England declaration categories. Single organisations often held multiple registers lacking enough information to interpret them. Only 35% of NHS Trust registers were organised to enable searching. None of the private sector organisations studied published a comparable declarations of interest register. Conclusion Despite efforts, the current system of declarations frequently lacks ability to meaningfully obtain complete healthcare professionals' declaration of interests.