The Health Council issues advisory reports independently. This means that these reports shed light on the state of science, undistorted by the interests of people or organisations. As such, transparency concerning potential interests is an important prerequisite.
Openness and weighing interests
Potential interests are an ever-present reality. In order to issue the best possible advisory reports, the Health Council engages top experts who may also provide their specific expertise to other institutions, such as patient organisations, government bodies or businesses. The fact that someone has different roles and contacts is not necessarily problematic. However, as a general requirement, committee members are not allowed to have direct personal or financial interests that could affect a particular advisory report. The Health Council ensures transparency with respect to any potential interests and consciously assesses whether conflicts of interests may arise and whether any interests within a committee are sufficiently offset.
Procedure for appointing members to the Health Council, Standing Committee or Committee
All experts who contribute to the work of the Health Council fill in a declaration of interest. This declaration is part of the Code for the Prevention of Improper Influence due to Conflicts of Interest. Experts also disclose information about research funding received and any personal financial interests. Based on this information, the Health Council’s Board decides whether or not someone can participate. All declarations are discussed in the (Standing) Committees, so that the members are informed about each other’s positions and interests.
Declarations of interest available on the website
The declarations of interest are periodically updated and publicly available on the Dutch website. Declarations of members of the Standing Committee and permanent committees can be found under the respective headings, while declarations of members of temporary committees are available in the relevant advisory reports.
Contributing as a consulted expert or observer
Sometimes, there are only a few experts with particular expertise. If their input is vital to an advisory report but they have potential interests that prevent them from becoming committee members, it is possible for them to act as consulted experts. If an expert works for a ministry or an organisation under its authority, they are automatically appointed as structurally consulted experts. These consulted experts attend some of the deliberations or make occasional contributions, but do not have voting rights when conclusions and recommendations are formulated and do not share joint responsibility for the content of the advisory report.
As a rule, one or more observers are assigned to a (permanent) committee. These observers represent a ministry or other governmental organisation, but are not necessarily experts. Observers often participate in formulating requests for advice and are involved in shaping ministerial responses to advisory reports or implementing policy measures. Similar to consulted experts, observers do not have voting rights.