Occupational physicians will generally be responsible both to employees and to employers. Responsibilities may also extend to other parties such as pension fund trustees, insurers, and at times to Employment Appeal Tribunals and courts of law. Potential conflicts of interest may therefore arise. Occupational physicians should be open in their dealings and strive to ensure advice is always impartial and objective, and wherever possible based on medical evidence. You should declare conflicts of interest to the relevant parties. Although the GMC’s guidance (above) focuses on NHS-based care and commissioning, you should observe the implied standards in all of your practice.
If you have a financial interest in the performance of an organisation in which you work (such as a profit-related pay or share option), you should not let this influence your clinical conduct towards patients, or your professional judgement about their health and safety needs or those of the organisation as a whole.
As an occupational physician, you must not:
- allow the pressure put on you by the patient’s employer or other third party to affect your professional judgement about the correct course of action or advice;
- allow commercial considerations (such as maintaining a contract to provide services) to affect your professional judgement and advice;
- exploit commercially sensitive information gained in your occupational medical practice for financial or personal gain (the intellectual property of your employer should remain protected).
- act with integrity when tendering for occupational health services;
- ensure, if you contract services, that your assessment is appropriate for the client’s need;
- ensure, if you contract services, that these are resourced at an appropriate level and that you accept only the work that you are competent to discharge.
You must not ask for or accept – from patients, colleagues or others – any inducement, gift or hospitality that may affect or be seen to affect the way you prescribe for, treat or refer patients or commission services for patients. You must not offer these inducements.