U-turn expected on NHS competition rules
27 February 2013
The government is looking to drop its new regulations for the NHS – introduced only a few weeks ago – that would allow the amount of competition from the private and voluntary sectors to increase, it has been reported.
The new NHS (Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition) Regulations, removing any unnecessary restrictions on competition, have upset MPs and protest groups to the point that the government is said to be looking to withdraw them. Buried in Section 75 of the Health & Social Care Act, the rules are expected to be opposed by non-Tory peers in the House of Lords. There are fears that the rules would create an NHS driven more by private profit than patient care.
In May 2011, we reported
that the former health secretary Stephen Dorrell, not chair of the health select committee, described any plan to restrict NHS competition as ''bonkers''. The argument over competition was "nonsensical", he said, and those who were talking of opposing it had "lost contact with reality",
in July of that year we reported that the London School of Economics (LSE) claimed that competition saves lives
, with 300 heart attack patients a year still alive because of it.
And in 2012, the LSE repeated the claim
, saying that competition would improve service quality and productivity in the NHS.
Despite this, health minister Norman Lamb said of the changes: "We need to review this carefully, given the concerns raised."
But his boss, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, had a different stance: "It is not our job to be a champion for the private sector or the NHS sector," he told MPs. "We want to be there to do the best job for patients. That is the purpose of the regulations."