Over two years ago I raised a petition with the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to introduce a Sunshine Act for Scotland.
A Sunshine Act would make it mandatory for healthcare workers (and hopefully academics and all allied health professionals) to declare fully any payments including payments in kind. The argument I presented was that a single, searchable, independent register underpinned by statute would ensure transparency, promote scientific integrity, reduce the potential for harm and save money.
Current Guidance in Scotland (HDL62 issued by the Scottish Government) has failed for more than 13 years. Other governance bodies, such as the Royal Colleges, have separate systems which also appear to have failed to ensure transparency of financial payments. These overlapping, but ineffective systems of governance duplicate costs and bureaucracy to nobody’s gain.
My petition was closed earlier this month by the Scottish Parliament as the Scottish Government had committed to “update guidance”.
One of the actions of the Government in response to my petition was to commission a public consultation:
Last week the public voice of Scotland was revealed:
The Scottish public want sunshine.
The majority of participants felt that the publication of financial payments to healthcare professionals should be made mandatory.
This is a landmark decision in the United Kingdom. By the voices of Scotland.
Of course there is much more to be done which requires more energy and light.
However I have faith that the Scottish Government can provide this:
I want to thank a number of people:
- the participants in the Public Consultation
- Eleanor Bradford Health Correspondent for the BBC who first suggested that I submit a petition to the Scottish Parliament
- the Petitions Committee and its hard-working and dedicated clerks
- John Pentland, MSP, former Convener, for being the first in Parliament to agree that statutory measures were required
- Chrys Muirhead, friend and fellow activist
- The President and Vice President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (the College I am member of) for doing their very best to improve transparency within the limitations of current guidance.