No self-respecting Liberal Democrat MP or Peer can let these regulations go through until promises have been met:
Promises from Andrew Lansley to Commissioning Group GPs,
Promises from Lord Howe to Lib Dem Peer Tim Clement Jones,
Promises from Nick Clegg to Liberal Democrats.
The Health and social Care Act 2012 was enormously complicated. Many of us who had studied it believed that it spelled the end of the NHS as we know it, but with such a complex bill it was always going to be the case that ‘the devil is in the detail’.
In an attempt to reassure some of the many, many people who were concerned all sorts of promises were made. “There was no way that the NHS would be privatised” “There would be no competition on price” “Competing providers would not be able to ‘cherry-pick'”. “There would be complete clinical freedom for GP Commissioners to choose the services that they felt were best for their patients.” And many more.
On 13 February the regulations were published that give much of the detail to the Health and Social Care Act. That detail makes grim reading for anyone who believes in clinical freedom, for anyone who believes in an integrated healthcare system and for anyone who believes in the NHS as a provider of care.
If no action is taken by MPs and Peers the regulations will automatically become law. They do not even need to be nodded through. But Parliament can insist on a debate, can delay or reject the regulations if members are not satisfied.
I have, therefore launched a petition to draw attention to this issue.
You will find the petition here.
Petition to stop new NHS Competition Regulations (SI257) being passed
We the undersigned call on both Houses of Parliament to ensure the NHS Competition regulations (SI 257) made under the Health & Social Care Act 2012, are subject to a full debate, and vote, on the floor of both Houses of Parliament, and that they are defeated or withdrawn.
These regulations – which will only go to a vote if parliament insists – would require virtually all health provision to be carried out in competitive markets, regardless of the wishes of either local people, GPs or local Clinical Commissioning Groups. They contradict assurances that were given by health ministers during the passage of the Act that it did not mean the privatisation of the NHS, and that local people would have the final say in who provided their NHS.
For example, Lord Howe said then “Clinicians will be free to commission services in the way they consider best. We intend to make it clear that commissioners will have a full range of options and that they will be under no legal obligation to create new markets… this will be made absolutely clear through secondary legislation and supporting guidance as a result of the Bill”. Andrew Lansley said (in a letter to the Clinical Commissioning Groups set up to manage most health budgets) that “It is a fundamental principle of the Bill that you as commissioners, not the Secretary of State and not regulators – should decide when and how competition should be used to serve your patients interests..”
We call on parliament to take all necessary steps to ensure these regulations, which would be incredibly damaging to the NHS, do not become law. For more information see this report, and a very helpful briefing paper from KONP at the link below.
Some of the legal issues are well explained here.
You will find the petition here.