Competition law to be introduced to the NHS

More details from the NHS white paper are emerging on the extent of marketisation and the role of competition that the coalition is planning to introduce.

More details from the NHS white paper are emerging on the extent of marketisation and the role of competition that the coalition is planning to introduce. Until now the internal market in the NHS has been governed by specific ‘principles and rules for cooperation and competition’.

But the white paper published this week proposes the introduction of competition law, thus treating the NHS like any other regulated industry.

While media coverage has focused on the abolition of Primary Care Trusts and the use of GP commissioning consortia to purchase care, the marketisation agenda has been largely overlooked.

Left Foot Forward reported in March on the implications of Tory proposals to use competition law to force services to be commissioned through open tender. As shadow health secretary, Andrew Lansley had criticised Andy Burnham’s limits on the involvement of voluntary and independent providers.

The white paper reveals that increased competition is to be introduced by converting Monitor, which currently regulates foundation trusts, into an economic regulator of all NHS care providers, from 2013. Monitor’s role will be to promote competition, to regulate pricing, and to support continuity of services in those areas that are not financially viable.

In its plans the government makes explicit comparisons between Monitor and regulators of utilities:

“Like other sectoral regulators, such as OFCOM and OFGEM, Monitor will have concurrent powers with the Office of Fair Trading to apply competition law to prevent anti-competitive behaviour.”

Monitor will:

“Help open the NHS social market up to competition, as well as… require monopoly providers to grant access to their facilities to third parties; or conduct market studies and refer potential structural problems to the Competition Commission for investigation.”

The white paper also refers to preventing anti-competitive purchasing behaviour. This means that GPs sitting down with hospital consultants to discuss care pathways could be outlawed as collusive. Other providers, such as private companies, would be able to take the GP Commissioner to court were they excluded from opportunities to bid to provide care.

Though not widely discussed thus far, it seems inevitable that the coalition government’s package of reforms envisage a marked increase in the role of private companies in healthcare provision. This is caused by the move away from the previous government’s stance that NHS organisations should be the preferred providers of care, combined with the emphasis on competitively open tenders which can be prohibitively costly for NHS bidders.

20 Responses to “Competition law to be introduced to the NHS”

  1. Darren Lewis

    RT @leftfootfwd
    Competition law to be introduced to the NHS: //bit.ly/cOdU7i < this is outrageous

  2. Colin Waude

    “@WubeyOneKenobi: “@leftfootfwd: Competition law to be introduced to the NHS: //bit.ly/cOdU7i” RIP NHS #dm4leader

  3. Robert Robinson

    RT @leftfootfwd: Competition law to be introduced to the NHS: //bit.ly/cOdU7i

  4. Andy Bold

    RT @Hedgewytch, @dalekcat: Fucking Hell RT @leftfootfwd
    Competition law to be introduced to the NHS: //bit.ly/cOdU7i (#fuckinghell)

  5. JoshC

    “In its plans the government makes explicit comparisons between Monitor and regulators of utilities:

    “Like other sectoral regulators, such as OFCOM and OFGEM, Monitor will have concurrent powers with the Office of Fair Trading to apply competition law to prevent anti-competitive behaviour.””

    Ah yes…because regulators like OFGEM have been such a roaring success in preventing the Gas and Electricity companies from operating like a cartel haven’t they?

  6. Pam Blundell

    RT @leftfootfwd: Competition law to be introduced to the NHS: //bit.ly/cOdU7i < this is bad. Anything about training in White paper?

  7. Jo Austin

    RT @pamblundell: RT @leftfootfwd: Competition law to be introduced to the NHS: //bit.ly/cOdU7i < this is bad. Anything about tra …

  8. Robert

    The problem is of course new labour can say sod all, our out of service medical provider is a private company, Last year was the first time since 1998 we have had an NHS dentist a private company from Poland.

    I had my MRI scan done in Wales sent to Spain to be read and then sent back here, except it was the wrong MRI scan. I have had two major operations carried out by private hospitals paid for by the NHS, what a difference that was to the NHS, food I could eat which was hot.

    But the fact is labour brought in rules but in the end it would have gone the way as most thing have under new Labour into the private sector.

    The fact is we are now becoming the newer new state of America.

  9. Nora

    As a nurse Iam really really scared for our patients

    Nurses dont want to work for private companies

    where profits come before patients

  10. Kevin

    within the five year scope of this new condemnation many more services will be attacked and left for dead in the water only so that the magical(rip off the tax payer) sector can step in and save it while contributing to coalition coffers via illegal offshore accounts.

  11. Kelvin Blake

    RT @leftfootfwd: Competition law to be introduced to the NHS //bit.ly/cOdU7i

  12. GreatWhite

    RT @AndyBold: RT @Hedgewytch, @dalekcat: Fucking Hell RT @leftfootfwd
    Competition law to be introduced to the NHS: //bit.ly/cOdU7i (#fuckinghell)

  13. Mr. Sensible

    Robert, is it still the plan of Cameron to role back the role of the existing regulators like Ofcom?

    I think this is a disgrace.

    Note to Shamik Daz; no contest for the regressive tag again this week as far as I can see; Lansley, hands down.

  14. Robert

    Lets put it another way the people of this country do not have much left these days, the Liberals will now be seen as lap dogs of whom ever needs them, they will change as they see fit to keep in power, then we have the Tories who have an open mandate now because of the mess of New labour, people like myself who spent 40 odd years in Labour, but have now left as the party had sod all for me. So to be honest if next week the Tories brought in a plan to make me vote I’d have to stand back take a deep breath and I think I’d have to go to jail for not voting or vote BNP as a protest vote.

    The simple fact the New labour Party Tory and Liberals are basically all following the same political agenda

  15. Look Left – The Week in Fast Forward | Left Foot Forward

    […] Foot Forward also looked at the extent of marketisation and the role of competition that the coalition is planning to introduce into the health service, […]

  16. Tom Sheppard

    And also – Competition law to be introduced to the NHS //is.gd/duGbC

  17. PrivateCareCompany

    RT @leftfootfwd: Competition law to be introduced to the NHS //bit.ly/cOdU7i

  18. PrivateCareCompany

    RT @leftfootfwd: Competition law to be introduced to the NHS //bit.ly/cOdU7i what about now?

  19. Thin end of the wedge? Private firm to run NHS hospital | Left Foot Forward

    […] for independent providers is the job of the new economic regulator, Monitor. Left Foot Forward has previously highlighted how competition law is likely to be used to target NHS providers – putting at risk the close […]

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