NHS Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition Regulations
Email Campaign

I recognise that there have been a number of concerns over the precise wording of these regulations on NHS procurement, patient choice and competition. On 5 March 2013 the Care Services Minister Norman Lamb announced that the regulations would be amended to ensure that they could not be open to misinterpretation and that they faithfully implement the assurances given to Parliament during the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill.

The Government has always said that it should be commissioners, not Monitor or Ministers, who decide when and how competition should be used to serve patients’ interests.

Concerns have been raised that Monitor would use the regulations to force commissioners to tender competitively. The regulations will make clear that this is not the case. Concerns have also been raised that competition would be put before integration and co-operation. I want to assure you that the Government was very clear during the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill that competition can only be used as a way to improve services for patients. The most important thing is what is in patients’ best interests. Integration is key to improving services for patients, and commissioners will be under a duty to use this approach. The Government will amend the regulations very shortly to make that point absolutely clear.

It is wrong to suggest these regulations will result in “enforced privatisation.” What they would actually do, in line with the principles adopted by the previous government, is ensure that doctors and nurses decide on the best providers to deliver services to their patients, taking decisions on when and how to use competition so they can improve services for patients, with appropriate safeguards to protect patients from conflicts of interest, discrimination and anticompetitive conduct.

There will be no privatisation of the NHS under this Government.
I know that this interpretation of the regulations has been circulated by 38 Degrees through its own legal advice. I thought you may be interested to know that the author of the 38 Degrees “independent” legal advice is former Labour MP, David Lock QC, who was the MP for Wyre Forest until losing to Dr Richard Taylor, the Independent Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern candidate who ran to oppose the last Labour Government’s NHS policies. Mr Lock remains active in Labour politics as Chair of the West Midlands Labour Finance and Industry Group. Indeed, while I fully appreciate your strong views on this particular issue, I did want to make you aware of the very close links that exist between 38 Degrees and the Labour Party. One Co-founder contributes significantly to the Labour Party, its leader and its unofficial website ‘Left Foot Forward’ while another put himself forward as General Secretary of the Labour Party last year, and a director described himself as “dedicated to the Labour cause’.

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