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Sussex health staff receive thousands of pounds worth of gifts
Hospital staff are receiving gifts including hotel rooms, international flights and the use of luxury cars worth thousands of pounds from pharmaceutical firms.
Staff at Brighton and Sussex University Hospital NHS Trust and East Sussex NHS Trust were offered sponsorship and speaker fees totalling more than £35,000 since 2010.
Several of the firms listed as donors also hold contracts with the trusts to supply drugs or medical equipment.
Declared gifts include a £3,600 sponsorship including flights and accommodation to fly a hospital consultant out to Chicago by drug company Alcon.
Other financial offers, revealed in a Freedom of Information request, include a £3,000 bursary by Alliance Pharmaceuticals for a study into stoma care while Servier Laboratories Ltd covered the £4,200 bill for a heart failure meeting at a Gatwick hotel.
Staff also had offers for flights and hotel rooms in Gibraltar, France, Rome, Washington DC and Vienna.
In total, staff working for Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust were offered £16,000 in speaker fees, accommodation, flights and other financial gifts in the last three years.
Staff at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust were offered gifts and events totalling more than £20,000.
Hospital trusts defended the gifts and said that the sponsored events were the best way for staff to keep up with the latest scientific research.
Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals’ NHS Trust spokesman said: “We have a clear framework in place to ensure clinicians make a full declaration of interest if they receive any sponsorship or gifts or if they make an application for a drug to be added to the formulary.
“Clinicians occasionally attend sponsored educational events which are an important way for them to keep up to date with the latest scientific research and best practice.”
An East Sussex NHS Trust spokeswoman said the register of gifts was not published publically by the trust but added that none of staff on the list were part of the groups or committees that procure drugs for the trust.
She added: “The rules for staff are set out in Trust policies, which reflect the guidance contained in the Department of Health Standards of Business Conduct for NHS staff and within the document Commercial Sponsorship.”
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