NHS England invites views on NHS Long Term Plan

Author: Jo Carlowe
NHS England invites views on NHS Long Term Plan

NHS England is inviting views on the NHS Long Term plan, which includes proposals to end current competition rules in the health service.

The proposals outline eight groups of suggested legislative changes in the NHS Long Term Plan, with feedback invited by April 25 2019. These include proposed changes to both the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and NHS Improvement’s (Monitor) roles in respect of competition.

In recent years there have been a number of investigations into NHS provider mergers or acquisitions. Hence, in the proposals it is suggested the CMA’s function to review mergers involving NHS foundation trusts should be removed. Instead, NHS Improvement would continue to review proposed transactions, including mergers of acquisitions, ‘to ensure there are clear patient benefits’.

Responding to the call for views on the NHS Long Term Plan, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, British Medical Association (BMA) council chair, said: “The BMA has long campaigned for damaging competition rules in the health service to be abolished, and it is only right that doctors, healthcare staff and patients have an opportunity to have their say on bringing an end to this wasteful use of resources.

“We have repeatedly raised concerns that inordinate time and money is spent on tendering processes for contracts at the expense of patient care, and at a time when the NHS is overstretched and struggling to meet demand. Given the state of our health service, it is imperative that money should be spent on the frontline, delivering the best care to patients, not on costly tenders and market processes.”

He added: “So much of the political rhetoric surrounding the future of the NHS revolves around integrated care, but as long as independent providers bid on time-limited healthcare contracts, this will remain nothing but an ambition. Only by removing the requirement to put health care services out to tender, can local systems work together to provide the care and services patients need.

“We are glad that there is growing recognition that change is needed, and we will of course be making our more detailed views known to NHS England in due course. The proof of commitment to reform, however, will be in the final proposals and the government’s long-overdue acceptance of the need to decisively end competition rules in the NHS.”

Responding to NHS England proposals regarding the legislative changes required to deliver the Long Term Plan, acting chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, Dame Donna Kinnair, said: “Nursing is a profession built on the art of collaboration, so nurses across England will be pleased to see moves towards legislation that can embed this principle across the health service and loosen the grip of the market.

“Giving the health secretary accountability for directing NHS organisations would be a welcome step that could help drive better collaboration in the strategic planning of the workforce. But our members want to see legislation that ensures accountability for staffing for safe and effective care also lies with the health secretary, with clear roles for national agencies.

“With 41,000 nursing posts currently laying empty across England, patient care is being compromised, but there is currently no law that holds decision makers responsible.”