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Labour's call for end to competition would not be lawful, says NHS England chief

The Labour Party’s ‘blanket ban’ on competitive NHS procurement would be against existing UK and EU legislation, the chief executive of NHS England has said in a letter to the shadow health secretary.

In the letter to Andy Burnham, Simon Stevens argued that the majority of funding decisions were now taken by CCGs, but where NHS England was concerned a contracting ban wouldn’t be ‘permissible’.

The letter was responding to Mr Burnham’s speech on 29 July saying that privatisation was being forced on the NHS ‘at pace and scale’ and should be halted before the general election to allow a ‘proper debate’.

Mr Stevens writes: ‘We are, as appropriate, required to observe European public procurement regulations originally introduced in 2006, and related to UK law.’

‘In everything we do we are also required to exercise our functions effectively, efficiently and economically. As a result we are advised that a blanket contracting ban would not be permissible.’

In June, Labour proposed a new bill to block NHS privitisation, and speaking to Pulse Mr Burnham said that Labour would bring a halt to the Coalition’s cuts to practice funding.

Readers' comments (11)

  • if the scots want a reason to vote yes they need to see this

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  • Well, what a surprise.

    Change the bloody law then.

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  • dont worry simon

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  • This comment has been moderated.

  • John Glasspool

    What rubbish. If Labour win the election, one hopes this man will be sacked. However, if there is a YES vote in Scotland, in two days, he need not fear, as Labour will lose 50 seats "at a stroke".

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  • Vinci Ho

    Yes. If and only if the Scots win on Thursday , you wonder what will be the repercussion on the debates about NHS in next election?
    Don't underestimate the 'poison' of section 75, it could backfire and bring on the 'death of a party'.......

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  • On one hand the government is saying that it is going to take a hardline approach to EU and get more concessions for UK but, on the other, it is not willing to stand up against the EU procurement/tendering to save the NHS which is a vital UK interest. Hypocrisy and vested interests of politicians and bureqaucrats looking for lucrative jobs in the new world of private health services.

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  • That's why we need a referendum and vote NO to Europe and get out as soon as possible.

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  • Why do some of you say that Labour would sack Simon Stevens? My goodness you have short, selective memories! Who was Tony B.Liar's special adviser on health, setting the direction of the last Labour Govt on the NHS before he left to become a director of United Health before returning as head of the NHS? Simon Stevens. He is in Labour's inner circle.

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  • ... what an unusual and surprising view for Simon to have ;)

    Note the heavily veiled sarcasm

    Seriously though, can anyone think of one even vaguely useful thing that NHS England has done yet or intended to do yet for the health service apart from a seemingly blatant intention to privatise it? Come on, even just one thing?

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  • Could not the BMA/RCGP fund a legal review of whether the NHS is required to abide by EU procurement legislation or whether they have chosen to interpret the guidelines in a certain way which Wales and Scotland appear not to have done

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