Responding to proposals in the NHS Long-Term Plan around potential legislative changes to remove restrictive competition rules in the health service1, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:
“Since the inception of competition rules embodied in the Health and Social Care Act in 2012, the BMA has consistently called for such a wasteful use of resource to be scrapped; so to see NHS England recognise this is long overdue.
“At a time when the NHS can least afford it, too much time and money is currently spent on tendering processes for contracts. Given the long waits for treatment and the cash-strapped state of our health service, time and money should be spent on the frontline, delivering better care to patients, not on costly tenders. These competition rules have also resulted in a fragmented NHS driven by commercial motives rather than providing patients with seamless care.
“Clinical Commissioning Groups should have the flexibility to commission services to suit local need, not to suit competitive tendering regulation and without the fear of having to pay out millions to private providers for falling foul of existing legislation, as has been in the case in recent years.
“When Government rhetoric is centred around integration within the health service, independent providers bidding on time-limited contracts sits entirely at odds with this philosophy. Only by removing the requirement to put service out to tender, can local systems work together to ensure cohesive patient-centred healthcare.
“NHS England’s ambitions here are clear, and we strongly recommend Parliament take forward these proposals and push through these legislative changes.
“We will be keen to see the finer details of any new system, and look forward to working with NHS England to ensure this becomes a reality in the interests of the health service and patients.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.
- See pages 112-113 in the NHS Long-Term Plan on NHS England’s website.