BMA guidance

Transparency for doctors with competing interests

Guidance on when competing interests arise in medicine.

Location: England
Audience: All doctors
Updated: Tuesday 13 February 2024
Topics: Ethics
Justice scales article illustration

Competing interests arise in medicine where practitioners become involved in arrangements that introduce considerations that may be in tension with the best interests of patients.

Although practitioners with direct financial interests attract the most attention, other competing interests, such as professional reputation, or the interests of family and friends or those otherwise close to you, can also give rise to concerns.


What you'll get from this guide

  • Detailed advice on those areas where competing interests are more likely to arise for doctors. 
  • Best practice guidance for doctors on incentives, inducements and gifts.
  • Information to help doctors manage personal and professional interests alongside the need for transparency with their patients. 


How to use this guide

This guidance identifies specific areas where competing interests arise most frequently and generate the greatest concern.

Although in many cases separate guidance exists for different areas of practice, this guide is designed to bring brief practical guidance on transparency and the management of competing interests together in one place. 

The exercise of professional judgment will be necessary. In accordance with GMC guidance, where you have doubts about whether there is a competing interest, it is sensible to act as if there is.

  • Competing interests: a changing landscape
  • Basic principles of competing interests
  • NHS England guidance on managing conflicts of interest in the NHS
  • Types of competing interests
  • Commissioning services
  • Competing interests for doctors as commissioners
  • Doctors with financial interests in companies
  • Doctors employed by private providers
  • Incentives and inducements to manage treatment and referral
  • Gifts and other inducements
  • NHS England guidance on hospitality
  • Education and training
  • Medical research
  • Publication of research in journals and promotional materials