Make it formal
Companies are requested to remind all employees that when they plan a meeting for health professionals and appropriate administrative staff at outside venues, hospitality must be secondary to the purpose of the meeting. To ensure that the meeting has a clear educational content organisers would be well advised to draw up, in advance, a formal agenda detailing the subjects to be discussed, together with timings where appropriate, and issue that as part of the invitation to the meeting. Invitations should be carefully worded so that delegates are attracted by the programme and not the associated hospitality or venue. The venue should be suitable for the purpose; the Code of Practice Panel is likely to rule any educational meeting held in an area of a restaurant, which at the same time is open to members of the public, in breach of the Code. A useful criterion in determining whether the arrangements for any meeting are acceptable is to ask ‘Would I and my company be willing to have these arrangements generally known?’. The impression that is created by the arrangements for any meeting can be as important in determining its acceptability under the Code as the arrangements themselves. Companies are reminded that they risk being ruled in breach of Clause 2 of the Code in relation to meetings where the hospitality is out of proportion to the occasion and/or the educational content is slim.