On Friday 21st November 2014, the House of Commons will debate a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Labour MP Clive Efford.
The National Health Service (Amended Duties and Powers) Bill 2014 would repeal the ‘Competition’ sections of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act. This is to be welcomed as a step in the right direction of reducing procurement and tendering procedures, subject to clarification that the National Health Service (Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition) (No. 2) Regulations 2013 would also be revoked. These are the Regulations that require commissioners to advertise new NHS contracts unless the services are only capable of being provided by a single provider.
The Bill, however, would not re-establish the Secretary of State’s duty to provide the NHS, despite the long title of the Bill saying that it would. Neither would it abolish the commissioner-provider split, as proposed by the NHS Reinstatement Bill.
Other points of concern are that it would for example:
- appear to defer unnecessarily to EU competition law;
- not reverse the 2012 Act’s prospective abolition of NHS trusts, and their transformation into NHS foundation trusts or take over by private companies; and
- leave Monitor in place with the same main duty, without a statutory purpose and continuing to licence private providers.
Further clarification is also required as regards the provisions covering the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Treaty and use of the term ‘‘service of general economic interest”.
Professor Allyson Pollock, Peter Roderick and David Price have prepared a response to the Bill, which includes their provisional views as to whether some of the key provisions deserve to be supported or opposed and where clarification is needed. That response is here: