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Field expresses 'concern' over competition legislation

The former head of the Government’s ‘listening exercise’ over the health act has expressed his concern over the proposed wording of the competition legislation, saying there should be no backtracking on previous committments ministers have made to put patients first.

Professor Steve Field, the former chair of the NHS Future Forum and currently the NHS Commissioning Board’s deputy medical director, called for clarity regarding whether they met the promises made by ministers at the time the Health and Social Care Act was reviewed.

Commenting via the social networking site Twitter, Professor Field said the NHS Future Forum had been clear that competition was ‘not an end in itself’ but should be used to improve patient care.

He said: ‘There should be no backtracking on Government commitments. We had assurances that they would be true to their commitments when we presented in the Cabinet room in Downing Street and in their response to our papers. I have been assured that this remains the case. But the wording concerns me.

‘I would like to see the Government clarify how the regulations are consistent with the commitments that they gave the NHS Future Forum and the public generally.’

The comments come after the GPC warned that GPs will be forced to waste time and money defending their practice resources from competition under proposed legislation for the NHS that will require CCGs to put all services out to tender ‘as a default’.

The proposed regulations, under section 75 of the Health and Social Care Act, remain subject to Parliamentary approval.

Health minister Lord Howe said: ‘There is no Government policy to privatise NHS services. These regulations are about ensuring that when services are tendered for, whether from NHS, voluntary sector or independent providers, the rules that are applied to the process are fair to all concerned. They are consistent in all respects with the commitments given by Ministers during the passage of the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

‘It is absolutely right to enable a commissioner to seek better alternatives to ensure the highest quality services possible are delivered to patients. This is why we have always said that competition in the NHS should never be pursued as an end in itself, but only where this is in the interests of patients. This principle underpins the right of patients to exercise choice when accessing treatments under the NHS, a right enshrined in the NHS Constitution.’

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Readers' comments (7)

  • He has been around long enough to realise that politicians say one thing & do another. He should not have got into bed with them against the better judgemnent of the medical profession.

    Now his is "concerned". He should not show that he is too concerned as he then may miss out on his knighthood.

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  • Knighthood? I though he was in the running for the new Pope.

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  • When will we get clarity over this issue? To have to tender/AQP everything would cause the system to grind to a halt (CCGs could realistically tender perhaps 2 or 3 major contracts per year). Competition should be used as a tool when necessary to improve provision, when a provider cannot or will not improve care to patients. Successful cost effective services should be left to get on with the job, though all providers, including GP, should be undertaking continuous quality improvement.

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  • The next thing we will see is a HM Inspectorate of GP Practice to monitor the money ,processes and delivery-this always follows on the back of government insecurity and privatisation to ensure that quality is delivered...I wonder how the jobs will get advertised.Meanwhile my town is full of anti privatisation of the NHS campaigners and I can't get in to see my GP within the week.
    Still-I hold on to my integrity and belief and value systems Prof.Field.
    What are yours composed of?-money,fame,Borisness?

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