Former SDP leader Lord Owen has presented a bill to Parliament to reinstate the health secretary’s duty to provide NHS services, in a bid to prevent the ‘fragmentation’ that he predicts will result from opening services out to competition.
The NHS (Amended Duties and Powers) Bill would subject all NHS bodies and bodies providing services for the NHS to ministerial direction; and restore sufficient ministerial control over provision consistent with the secretary of state’s overarching duty to provide health services to the whole of England.
Lord Owen said the Health and Social Care Act had removed the health secretary’s duty to provide services and this new bill would protect the NHS from being less integrated.
Lord Owen said: ‘The main aim is to have a bill that will have been tested by public opinion in by-elections and in a general election ready for a new Government, allowing them to urgently put it before both Houses of Parliament and enact it within the shortest possible period, hopefully no more than three months.
‘In removing the autonomy provisions of the 2012 Act we are not seeking to go back; what we are seeking to do is to curb the fragmentation that inevitably comes with marketisation.’