Dominic Cummings accused of conflict of interest over NHS fund

Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s most senior aide, is facing conflict of interest accusations over a consultancy role he undertook for the government-endorsed healthcare startup, Babylon Health, that is in a position to receive a share of a new £250m flagship public fund.

An investigation by the Guardian and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal found that Cummings advised Babylon Health, the developer of the primary care app GP at Hand, working within the NHS, on its communications strategy and its senior recruitment. GP at Hand and Babylon Health have been backed publicly on multiple occasions by the health secretary, Matt Hancock.

The former Vote Leave campaign director’s formal role with Babylon concluded in July last year but he continued to advise the firm about recruitment until September 2018 – the same month Hancock visited the firm and told staff he wanted the NHS to help the company expand.

In August this year, shortly after Boris Johnson entered No 10 with Cummings as his top adviser, Downing Street and the Department of Health announced a £250m fund to boost the use of AI in the NHS by using automated systems for diagnoses or data analysis. Although the money has yet to be allocated, Babylon is well placed to benefit as a key player in the AI field.

Full story in The Guardian, 11 October 2019

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