Bill confirms end of compulsory NHS competition

A major bill laid before Parliament today has confirmed the end of compulsory competition in the NHS.

Explanatory notes published alongside the government’s Health and Care Bill confirmed that the legislation proposes removing:

  • Section 75, which requires healthcare services to be tendered;
  • Competition duties from what was Monitor, now NHS Improvement, rather than moving them to NHS England;
  • The Competition and Markets Authority’s powers to review foundation trust mergers;
  • Monitor’s (now NHSI’s) ability to refer contested licence conditions, and tariff prices, to the CMA.

The notes said: “The procurement reforms within the bill will enable the removal of the current procurement rules which apply for NHS and public health service commissioners when arranging clinical healthcare services (eg hospital or community services)…

“The bill will enable the development of a new procurement regime for the NHS and public health procurement, informed by public consultation, to reduce bureaucracy on commissioners and providers alike, and reduce the need for competitive tendering where it adds limited or no value.”

The explanation continues: “These reforms will only apply to the procurement of clinical healthcare services, and the procurement of non-clinical services, such as professional services or clinical consumables, will remain subject to the Public Contract Regulations 2015 rules, until these are replaced by Cabinet Office procurement reforms.”

It then adds: “The power does however provide an ability to make provision for mixed procurements in the regime, where a contract involves a mixture of health care and other services or goods, for example if a health service is being commissioned but in the interests of providing joined up care some social care services are also commissioned as part of a mixed procurement.”

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Source: HSJ