Corruption and misconduct in public life is a very serious issue and one which is not unheard of in Thanet, with the recent imprisonment of former Council Leader Sandy Ezekiel. Ongoing investigations may reveal that Ezekiel was not the only senior figure at Thanet Council to have enriched him/ herself by having access to inside information.However what I want to talk about today is not the misdeeds of senior Thanet Council people, but the massive potential for misconduct and corruption at the new Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
Established on 1 April 2013 the CCG has responsibility for health care in Thanet. It has a budget of £190 million to pay for doctors, district nurses, medicines, hospital care etc. The CCG is run by a Governing Board consisting 7 local doctors, 2 lay members and the CCG Chief Officer. The members of the Board claim substantial allowances for their work at the CCG.
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I have carried out some checks in Thanet and discovered that just like the national picture our CCG is rife with major and significant conflicts of interest which make Thanet Council look squeaky clean when it comes to ethical governance and probity.
According to the CCG Register of Interests 4 of the GP Board Members have an interest in a company called Thanet Health CIC. Thanet Health CIC was set up in 2011. It is a Community Interest Company, which although it can’t make a profit can pay it Directors big salaries. Dr Tony Martin Chairman of the CCG is also a director of Thanet health CIC. The aims of Thanet CIC are to support the organisation and management of the Thanet GP Commissioning Consortia, to provide out of hours GP services and to provide healthcare and related service to the Thanet CCG.So there you have it. 4 out of 7 doctors on the Thanet CCG Board have interests in a company which has the declared aim of securing business and payments from the CCG. Surely this cannot be ethical or proper?
But is doesn’t end there. Take the case of lay-Board Member Dominic Carter. I understand that Mr Carter receives approximately £10,000 per year for 2 days work per month as the Board Member responsible for patient engagement. His day job is Business Development Director of Indian-owned Mastek (UK) Ltd, which, according to the company’s website, develops and sells software to the NHS including Clinical Commissioning Groups. http://www.mastek.co.uk/index.php/industries/health
So once again we have another Board member who is a software salesman for a company which sells products to Clinical Commissioning Groups. Surely this can’t be ethical or proper?
So how can this charter for potential dodgy dealing be dealt with?
Well I say anyone with an interest in companies which might seek work with the CCG should be automatically be banned from being a CCG Board Member. And anyone who has close family members or close friends associated with such companies should be banned from being a CCG member.
It sounds draconian but we are talking, in the case of Thanet CCG, about organisations dealing with £190 million of taxpayer’s money and we can’t afford take chances.
Until laws are enacted to make this happen Kent County Council has the legal responsibility for scrutinising the work of the CCGs. If elected to kCC, I will make it business to keep a very close eye on conflicts of interest at Thanet CCG!