NHS staff will have to declare gifts or hospitality they receive from drugs and medical device companies or face being disciplined, sacked or even sent to prison if found guilty of wrongdoing, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced.
The new "Sunshine rule" will be introduced next year to stop staff abusing their position by taking extravagant gifts or hospitality and lobbying for unneeded or overly expensive medicines or procedures.
It will see NHS organisations have to maintain a hospitality register where staff will have to declare all gifts and hospitality they receive from pharmaceutical firms and medical devices manufacturers.
They will have to make sure their staff are accurately recording all gifts and hospitality and take disciplinary action against anyone not doing so.
Mr Hunt said: "Disturbing evidence has come to my attention that small numbers of NHS staff have tried to influence NHS purchasing decisions in return for payment, gifts or hospitality from pharmaceutical firms and medical device manufacturers.
"This is a complete abuse of their position and will be shocking to the vast majority of staff who want the best for patients.
"Part of the problem is just how many sales reps are targeting our hospitals, with 65 reps on site at any one time according to a recent report. The NHS is indirectly paying for every one of those reps, through staff time and the amount paid for drugs and products.
"As with so many issues in the NHS, the answer is greater transparency. These tough new rules will for the first time expose improper relationships between staff and pharmaceutical companies. Only those serving their own self-interest should have anything to fear, with patients and taxpayers set to benefit."
Officials said the new rule follows a number of cost control measures that the Government has introduced over the past few months, including clamping down on rip-off staffing agencies and limiting the use of expensive management consultants, to support the NHS to make sure every penny possible is spent on frontline care.