Healthcare Improvement Scotland – Register of Interests

29 May 2013

Dear Healthcare Improvement Scotland,
Hospital Boards are reportedly meant to keep a register of payments  from pharmaceutical companies (and other relevant companies) to  staff, in case of conflicts of interest [1]. I am requesting a copy  of the register for this Board – which I would hope includes  details of all relevant payments to staff and any related potential  conflicts of interest. If it would be possible to have this  information in an appropriate structured data format – for example,  a CSV file – this would be helpful. If this Board does not have a  complete register, I would request: the release of the information  on this topic that the Board does hold; and an explanation of why  the Board does not hold a complete register.

I am aware that some would view data on pharmaceutical funding as  personal data for those staff receiving the funding. Even if some  of the information on this register may be classed as personal data  (although this is contestable – for example, in some sectors of  academia information re funding sources is made public as a matter  of course) it would be covered by paragraph 6 of Schedule 2 of the  Data Protection Act. The release of these data is “necessary for  the purposes of legitimate interests pursued by the data controller  or by the third party or parties to whom the data are disclosed”  [2]. Spurling et al’s systematic review of how information from  pharmaceutical companies impacts physicians’ prescribing reported  that, of the studies included which looked at total promotional  investment, three “found that total promotional investment was  positively associated with prescribing frequency…Two…found both  positive results and no association…One study did not detect an  association” [3]. There is thus a legitimate interest in releasing  this register: the available research suggests that it is plausible  that payments received influence how public money is spent and the  type of care provided to members of the public.

For the reasons given above, there is a strong public interest in  releasing this information. While “requests for the personal data  of a third party are exempt under section 40(2) of the Freedom of  Information Act…if disclosure would contravene section 10 of the  Data Protection Act, the right to prevent processing likely to  cause damage or distress” [2], I would argue that, even if some of  those named in these documents feel that their release would cause  them damage or distress, this is outweighed by the significant  public interest served by releasing these data.

Yours Faithfully,
Dr Peter J. Gordon

[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/a
[2] http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/info
[3] http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info

————

From: Healthcare Improvement Scotland

29 May 2013

Dear Dr Gordon
Further to your freedom of information request of today 29 May (below), this has been logged and is being processed.

Under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 [FOISA], we must respond within 20 working days – at latest by close of Wednesday 26 June.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like an update on progress.

Yours sincerely
Patrick Maitland-Cullen.

Health Information Scientist (Freedom of Information Officer)
Healthcare Improvement Scotland Gyle Square
1 South Gyle Crescent
Edinburgh
EH12 9EB

The Healthcare Environment Inspectorate, Scottish Health Council, Scottish Health Technologies Group, Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network and the Scottish Medicines Consortium are part of Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

 

Alex-Neil-on-Reg-of-Interes

——
From: Maitland-Cullen Patrick
Healthcare Improvement Scotland

20 June 2013

Enclosures:

  • Board Members Register of Interests 2013 2014 v 0.4.pdf
  • Register of gifts and hospitality 13 14.pdf
  • Employee Code of Conduct updated.pdf  2
  • FOI Letter 389.pdf

Dear Dr Gordon
Further to your freedom of information request of 29 May, please find our response letter attached together with supporting files.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require further information.

Yours sincerely
Patrick Maitland-Cullen.

——–
From: Peter J Gordon

25 June 2013

Dear HEALTHCARE IMPROVEMENT SCOTLAND,
Thank you for your most helpful response, attachments and links.

For ease of Public access I will append your reply of 20 June 2013  below. Based on your returns, I have some further questions which I will ask through a separate e-mail.

Yours sincerely,
Peter J Gordon

All Healthcare Improvement Scotland staff:
There is a nil return on staff receiving payment from a pharmaceutical company. This return includes staff working in both the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network(SIGN), and Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC).

Please find attached the register for financial year 2013 to 2014:

Register of gifts and hospitality.pdf

Please also find our employee code of conduct attached. Section 35  sets out the conditions on accepting additional employment:

Employee Code of Conduct (updated).pdf

www.healthcareimprovementscotland.org

Board members’ register of interests

Please find attached for information the register of interests for  financial year 2013 to 2014. The register includes senior staff members, and it should be noted that for this group there is no  pharmaceutical company-related return:

Board register 2013 to 2014.pdf

This information is also available online, along with the Board  members’ code of conduct, at:
www.healthcareimprovementscotland.org/ab

———-
From: Peter J Gordon

25 June 2013

Dear HEALTHCARE IMPROVEMENT SCOTLAND,
Your responses to FOI indicate that your “Employee Code of Conduct”  “version 1.0” was written as recently as 25 March 2013 and only  approved by your Policy Sub-Group on 22 May 2013. It says this was  based on NHS QIS Code of Conduct.

(1) Under FOI could you provide for the public the QIS Code of  Conduct and explain from what date it was followed? One assumes well before the Scottish Government Guidance was published on Hospitality, Payments and potential COI involving any NHS staff?

(2) Can you provide the Hospitality Registers for the QIS Code of Conduct?

(3) You have zero returns as this policy has only just been implemented. Is this correct?

(4) You are confirming under FOI that none of your NHS employees for HEALTHCARE IMPROVEMENT SCOTLAND have received NO payments from Pharmaceutical Industry or Pharmaceutical Sponsored Education? It is very important that we are clear with the public on this, as given longstanding roles of Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN), and Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC).

For this reason I am requesting an Internal Review.

Yours sincerely,
Peter J Gordon

—————

From: Maitland-Cullen Patrick
Healthcare Improvement Scotland

5 July 2013

Dear Dr Gordon
Please accept my apologies for the delay in acknowledging your freedom of information request and review request.

Both requests are being processed. Under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 [FOISA], we must respond within 20 working days – at latest by close of Tuesday 23 July.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like an update on progress.

Yours sincerely
Patrick Maitland-Cullen.

——————————————————————————–
22 July 2013
Healthcare Improvement Scotland

Dear Dr GordonFurther to your request for review of freedom of information response 389,  please find the decision set out in the attached letter.
Review Letter FOI 389.pdf 286K DownloadView as HTML

The response to your accompanying questions, our reference FOI 401, is  being finalised. The deadline for our response is close of tomorrow.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require further information.

Yours sincerely
Patrick Maitland-Cullen.

——-

From: Peter J Gordon
22 July 2013

Dear Patrick Maitland-Cullen
HEALTHCARE IMPROVEMENT SCOTLAND,

I will post your reply below for ease of public access.

Yours sincerely,
Peter J Gordon

———–

Enquiries to: S Twaddle
Healthcare Improvement Scotland

Dear Dr Gordon
Pharma payments – review of FOI 389

Further to your email of 25 June appealing against this organisation’s response to your freedom of information (FOI)  request, a review was held on Friday 12 July.

On 20 June we responded as follows:

‘All Healthcare Improvement Scotland staff: There is a nil return on staff receiving payment from a pharmaceutical company. This return includes staff working in both the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN), and Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC).

Please find attached the register for financial year 2013 to 2014… [ ]

Please also find our employee code of conduct attached. Section 35 sets out the conditions on accepting additional employment…

Board members’ register of interests

Review request

Your email of 26 June said:  “You are confirming under FOI that none of your NHS employees for HEALTHCARE IMPROVEMENT SCOTLAND have received NO payments from  Pharmaceutical Industry or Pharmaceutical Sponsored Education? It  is very important that we are clear with the public on this, as  given longstanding roles of Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines  Network (SIGN), and Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC). For this  reason I am requesting an Internal Review.’

On Friday 19 July I reviewed the information relating to the request, Scottish Information Commissioner guidance, information from the Healthcare Improvement Scotland FOI officer, together with  our comments, following the process set out in our FOI policy.

Review decision
The response of 20 June included the corporate register of hospitality for financial year 2013 to 2014, covering all  Healthcare Im provement Scotland staff, and gave a nil return on  payments to staff from pharmaceutical companies.

I can confirm there is a nil return for Healthcare Improvement Scotland staff recording payment from a pharmaceutical company during financial year 2013 to 2014. All HIS employed staff working in SIGN and the Scottish Health Technologies Group (SHTG), and HIS-employed health economists who work with SMC make an additional annual declaration of any competing interests. These declarations of interest include information on any payments to the individual and their close relatives

These staff groups also had a nil return on payments from pharmaceutical firms for financial years 2011 to 2012 and 2012 to 2013.

The hospitality register for financial year 2012 to 2013 records a nil return for staff payment by a pharmaceutical company. The sources of hospitality and gifts value in that year were: Kalvar  County Council, Sweden (£155); BMJ Group (Euros 50); Institute for  Healthcare Improvement (£30); South Korean academic delegation  (£60); and Marketing Scotland £30.99).

The hospitality register for financial year 2011 to 2012 records a nil return for staff payment by a pharmaceutical company. The  sources of hospitality and gifts in that year were: Finnish  guideline developers (£20); Communications supplier (£5); HAA  design (£10); Conscia (£400 – prize won in open draw at annual  national NHS Scotland conference).

Your questions which accompanied the review request are being processed by the Finance unit as freedom of information request 401.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to discuss  any aspect of this

response.
Yours sincerely

Dr Sara Twaddle
Head of Evidence & Technologies
Director of SIGN (reviewer)

——-
From: Peter J Gordon
22 July 2013

Dear HEALTHCARE IMPROVEMENT SCOTLAND,
Many thanks for yiour further reply.

I note that you have remain to answer the following:

“Your responses to FOI indicate that your “Employee Code of Conduct – version 1.0″ was written as recently as 25 March 2013 and only  approved by your Policy Sub-Group on 22 May 2013. It says this was  based on NHS QIS Code of Conduct.Under FOI could you provide for  the public the QIS Code of Conduct and explain from what date it  was followed? One assumes well before the Scottish Government  Guidance was published on Hospitality, Payments and potential COI  involving any NHS staff?”

Can you also confirm in writing that none of those involved and employed by you in preparation of SIGN guidelines (Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network) and Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) have had in any time, 3 years before publication of said guidelines, had ANY conflict of interest. As it stands the understanding is that this is the case.

Yours sincerely,
Peter J Gordon

——-
From: Maitland-Cullen Patrick
Healthcare Improvement Scotland

23 July 2013

    • FOI Letter 401.pdf  229K
    • Table1GiftsHospitality.pdf
    • NHS QIS Code of Conduct October 2004.pdf

Dear Dr Gordon
Further to your freedom of information request emailed on 25 June, please  find our response letter attached.

—–
New FOI request – our ref. 406

In your email of 22 July, you wrote:
Can you also confirm in writing that none of those involved and employed by you in preparation of SIGN guidelines (Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network) and Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) have had in any time, 3 years before publication of said guidelines, had ANY conflict of interest. As it stands the understanding is that this is the case.””

I understand that Dr Twaddle’s review letter sent to you yesterday  confirmed that this was the case for financial years 2011-2012, and 2012-2013.

I should be grateful if you would clarify that you are looking for  confirmation of a similar nil return for NHS QIS staff working for SIGN  and SMC in financial year 201-2011?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely
Patrick Maitland-Cullen.

——————

The full communication with Healthcare Improvement Scotland including all provided attachments and files: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/register_of_payments_from_pharma_177#incoming-411986

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