GPs will be exempt from requirements to hold a license with Monitor, under plans outlined in a new Government consultation on licensing with the regulator.
The consultation, Protecting and promoting patients' interests – licensing providers of NHS services, sets out how a legal framework would be established for the regulator to set out and enforce rules for NHS providers to protect and promote patients interests
It said the exemptions would be applied to GP practices as the NHS Commissioning Board was well placed to ‘enforce standards equivalent to those included in Monitor's standard license conditions', and said there was ‘no compelling evidence that GPs were restricting patient choice against the wishes of local commissioners'.
It added: ‘On this basis, we are recommending that providers of primary medical and dental services should initially be exempt from the requirement to hold a licence.'
The consultation, which runs until 22 October, said the exemption would be subject to review during the next Parliament and would not apply where a GP practice provided other NHS services such as minor surgical procedures.
It added that the NHS Commissioning Board would be expected to act on any recommendations Monitor might make in relation to ‘alleged failures' to meet licensing obligations, which could include ‘requiring action by GP practices where appropriate'.
Monitor and the Department of Health are intending to introduce licensing for foundation trusts from April 2013 and for providers of other NHS services – excluding GPs and dental practices – from April 2014.