Ethics General practitioner Junior doctor Medical student Consultant Medical academic SAS doctor England

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Conflicts of interest

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The need for transparency in public life, particularly in relation to financial or other competing interests is now well established. 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.

Where competing interests cannot be readily avoided, they should be openly and transparently declared.

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.

Competing interests arise naturally in all areas of professional life and it would be unfeasible and undesirable to try to eliminate them.

Even where they do not affect decision making, they retain the potential to undermine trust, both in individual doctors, and in the health profession more widely. Where competing interests cannot readily be avoided, they should be openly and transparently declared.


About this guidance

Competing interests arise in almost all areas of medical practice. In this guidance note we identify specific areas where they arise most frequently and generate the greatest concern.

Although in many cases separate guidance exists for different areas of practice, this note is designed to bring brief practical guidance on transparency and the management of competing interests together in one place. Links to more detailed guidance are provided throughout.

Despite the proliferation of guidance and local protocols, in some circumstances 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.



Transparency and doctors with competing interests (PDF)