On the rise: Hospital consultants with shares or roles in profit-making healthcare companies

Warning of need for close regulation

Thursday, 27th January — By Tom Foot

UCLH WhatsApp Image 2020-10-02 at 12.10.01

UCLH

A SPOTLIGHT has fallen on the numbers of hospital consultants with shares or roles in joint ventures with  profit-making healthcare companies due to a massive increase in funding diverted to the private sector during the Covid pandemic.

A report from the Centre for Health and the Public Interest think-tank lists UCLH and Royal Free as having among the highest number of consultants — 23 and 16 respectively – London with shares or consultancy roles that could lead to conflict of interests.

New Journal research shows dozens of declared links in consultants register interests with companies ranging from GSK to sports specialists.

The report said: “The large number of consultants who own shares in private hospitals through joint venture arrangements and the very large financial benefit which they derive from these arrangements is a significant matter of public interest. Whilst there is no suggestion that by virtue of holding shares in a joint venture business, or receiving dividend payments from them, these consultants would put their own financial interests ahead of their patients, the lack of public understanding of the nature of these arrangements means that there is potential for abuses to occur.”

It added that new legislation is required and the CQC should be given greater powers over see stricter regulations.

At UCLH, consultants have declared shares in firms including Glaxosmithklyne, Merck Sharp, Dohme, Microsoft, 18 Weeks Support Ltd, Takeda Dengue, GB Diagnostic Ltd, Chataway Fowler Company, D-Gen Limited, Magnus Growth, AUCS Ltd, London Elite Sports Orthopaedics, London Oncology Clinic,  BookMyScan, Unilever Intertek Group.

The US healthcare company HCA Healthcare, which is based in the UCLH main hospital building in Euston Road, has established the largest number of joint ventures with medical consultants. Dividends are paid to consultants by the companies under this system.

NHS contracts permits consultants to undertake private work in their spare time and this practice has been “turbo-charged” by Covid pandemic, according to the experts.

A lack of funding for the NHS overall means a growing number of patients are being forced to pay for treatment in private hospitals out of their own pockets.

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