England

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Long-term plan to curb competition

Winter pressures – beds

NHS leaders have called for the Government to remove competition and procurement rules in the health service in a bid to make ‘rapid progress’ on integrated care and save wasting cash on contracting bureaucracy.

The NHS’s long-term plan, unveiled yesterday, suggests commissioners should be free to decide when they procure services and the role of the Competitions and Markets Authority in NHS mergers and acquisitions should be removed.

The plan also suggests NHS England and NHS Improvement should be able to work more closely together and clinical commissioning groups and providers given legal ‘shared duties’ so finance and performance targets can be shared.

It comes as prime minister Theresa May and NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens gave speeches at the launch of the long-term plan in Liverpool – with plans to focus on prevention, technological advances and improvements in community care and mental health.

Among the announcements were:

  • Quicker treatment and guidance for people with unhealthy lifestyles at risk of developing long-term conditions
  • Better mental health support in schools
  • Increased support in the community to allow quicker discharge from hospital
  • Digital access to health services
  • Healthy living programmes
  • Testing centres for earlier cancer diagnosis
  • DNA testing for children with cancer or rare genetic disorders.

 

'Ambitious' goal

BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul (pictured below) said the plans were ‘ambitious’ but must be deliverable given the ‘substantial and growing pressures on the NHS’.

He said: ‘Fundamental to the expansion of cutting-edge treatments and digital consultations is to first get the basics right, such as the workforce. There is no use in opening the digital front door to the health service if we don’t have the healthcare staff behind it.

‘While the Government has highlighted plans to expand capacity and grow the workforce, very little has been offered in the way of detail. Given that there are 100,000 staff vacancies within the NHS, the long-term sustainability of the NHS requires a robust workforce plan that addresses the reality of the staffing crisis across primary, secondary and community care. This will require additional resources for training, funding for which has not been mentioned in the long-term plan.’

Chaand-Nagpaul-3 GPC chair 2015 16x9

Dr Nagpaul called for the publication of the Government’s green paper on social care and for stronger measures on public health such as minimum unit pricing, sugar restrictions and advertising legislation.

He said: ‘If we are to truly transform the care we give to patients, and create a sustainable, world-class health service, this long-term plan must deliver beyond grand ambition and address the realities faced by doctors, NHS staff and patients today.’

Find out about the BMA's response to the long-term plan

Find out more about the long-term plan

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