The statement of best practice was signed by 18 healthcare organisations, including the Department of Health, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.
The publication comes as collaborative working becomes an increasingly important way for the NHS to address key health challenges in a constrained budgetary environment.
The guidance has been formulated by the Ethical Standards in Health and Life Sciences Group (ESHLSG) which is comprised of leading figures from the professional, representative and regulatory bodies from the health professional community and life sciences industry. The Group was established to address issues in partnership which impact on the relationship between commercial organisations and health professionals and ensures that these relationships meet the high expectations of stakeholders, and particularly patients.
Specifically the statement:
Acknowledges that active collaboration can deliver better patient care and improved outcomes.
Clearly describes the current working environment in which pharmaceutical companies and health care professionals operate and the rules and regulations to which all parties must abide.
Details in a 'Dos and Don’ts' section, every day, practical advice for those working in collaboration to improve patient outcomes.
Please find below a selection of quotes from the partner organisations:
Commenting, Stephen Whitehead, Chief Executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said:
“The NHS and pharmaceutical industry share a common agenda to improve patient care and clinical outcomes through high quality and cost effective treatment and care management. With this shared interest, pulling expertise and resources allows us to together tackle disease more effectively.
“This collaborative way of working is becoming increasingly common and we already have many examples that show how effective it can be. The publication of this statement by a broad base of health organisations will help assure professionals of the good work they are doing and make all sides aware of their responsibilities. Ultimately, we hope this will encourage further collaborative working and in turn, greater strides will be made in improving the health of patients.”
Commenting, Sir Richard Thompson, Co-Chair of the Ethical Standards in Health and Life Sciences Group and President of the Royal College of Physicians, said:
“I welcome the setting up of the Ethical Standards in Health and Life Sciences Group as a positive step forward in promoting collaboration between healthcare and the pharmaceutical and devices industry. There are many real benefits to be gained by working together in an open and transparent manner and this new set of guidelines are an excellent start. I urge all health professionals to embrace them.”
Commenting, Dr Clare Gerada, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said:
"The RCGP is pleased to be part of this important collaboration. The relationship between healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry can be confusing, for professionals as well as patients, and the lines between the two sides can become blurred. This work will provide much-needed clarity, as well as setting new standards for transparency and best practice that will provide reassurance for patients and improve the care and services they receive."
Commenting, Professor Phil Routledge, President of the British Pharmacological Society, said:
“On behalf of the BPS, which represents many clinical pharmacologists serving as healthcare professionals and educators, as well as pharmacologists and clinical pharmacologists working in the pharmaceutical industry and regulatory agencies, I am delighted to support this document, and the work of the Ethical Standards in Health and Life Sciences Group as a whole. This initiative represents an excellent example of what can be achieved through collaborative working between healthcare professionals and the pharmaceutical industry, and we are pleased to be joining other bodies, including the UK Department of Health, and the Scottish and Welsh Governments in endorsing this guidance framework.
“We look forward to continuing our work with ABPI, the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons and many other representative groups on this important subject, and commend this Guidance document to our members.”
Commenting, Professor Sir Neil Douglas, Chairman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said:
“The Academy is pleased to be part of a collaborative that sees industry and healthcare professionals working together in the interests of patient safety. Transparency, better understanding and sharing expertise between the professions and industry can only serve to improve clinical care and the education of all involved.”
Commenting, Dr Richard Tiner, President of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine, said:
"As the standard-setting body for doctors working in the pharmaceutical industry, and a link between these two communities, the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine welcomes the release of this guidance document. We believe that the principles within it herald a new era of collaborative working that will encourage innovation in science and medical practice in the UK for the benefit of patients. The Faculty is particularly pleased that the issue of adverse event reporting, point 9 has been highlighted, as the utilisation of the yellow-card scheme by healthcare professionals and patients is vital in developing safe and effective medicines."
Commenting, Professor Sue Bailey, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:
“We are pleased to have collaborated with so many organisations on this valuable document. The College recognises the important and valid contribution made by pharmaceutical companies and other commercial organisations to patient care, research and education, and we hope this document will provide clear guidance for both healthcare professionals and the industry on best practice.”
Commenting, Dr Catherine Duggan, Director of Professional Development and Support, Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said:
“The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is made up of pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists who work in both the NHS and in the pharmaceutical industry. This allows us to see how well facilitated collaboration between the pharmaceutical industry, profession and patients can help with research, development and improve patient care. We welcome this initiative that aims to ensure that relationships between health professionals and the pharmaceutical industry are open and transparent and aligned to public benefit.”
Commenting, Professor Hugo Mascie-Taylor, Medical Director, NHS Confederation, said:
"Collaboration between partners in healthcare benefits both patients and the NHS. At the NHS Confederation we are delighted that the members of the ESHLSG have come together to change attitudes and behaviours to support collaboration."
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Notes to Editors
The Ethical Standards in Health and Life Sciences Group (ESHLSG) is a multi-stakeholder group with representation from professional, representative and regulatory bodies from the health professional community, the life sciences industry (covering diagnostics, medical devices and pharmaceuticals) as well as patient organisations.
The Group’s role is to evolve the relationship between healthcare professionals and commercial life science organisations to ensure that it meets the expectations of stakeholders and creates a platform for increased collaboration and partnership for the benefit of patients. It will do this by promoting positive, collaborative behaviours and addressing areas of reputational vulnerability to health professionals and commercial organisations.