It simply isn’t cricket

An investigation by the Sunday Telegraph, published over the weekend (no longer available) has revealed that senior managers in the NHS are routinely entertained at top sporting events, both at home and overseas, by private companies touting for NHS contracts. 

While some NHS trusts admitted that officials had broken the rules in accepting such hospitality, others insisted that the entertainment had been in line with that Trust’s policy on gifts and hospitality. While this investigation reveals that there is some confusion among Healthcare Trusts regarding what may or may not be acceptable, one thing is crystal clear, such exposure makes the business arrangements between NHS senior managers and private service providers look more than a little murky.

Interestingly, the future of such entertainment has been called into question by critics of the soon to be implemented Bribery Act. While Justice Secretary Ken Clarke stated in an interview in the Financial Times that the Bribery Act will not make taking a client to a hospitality box at Twickenham a criminal offence, the Act will require businesses and organisations, in both the private and public sectors, to implement a carefully thought through policy on gifts and hospitality which clearly distinguishes between client liaison and influencing business decisions.

GoodCorporation has developed a decsion-trees on corporate hospitality that provide a step-by-step process to ensure that companies stay on the right side of client liaison. Our final point asks; “Would you be embarrassed if this were in the papers?” I wonder what decision NHS managers would have reached if they had asked themselves this question? Please contact us for more information

In implementing the Act, the Government should start be ensuring that our senior public officials have thorough and clear guidance on what is acceptable and what is not.