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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.