S75 Regulations rewrite is as bad as ever

Conversations continue about the new version of the Health and Social Care Act regulations.
I have yet to see a full legal analysis, but it is quite clear that the promises of ministers have not been delivered.
Today – Thursday 14 March the House of Lords committee wishes to receive comments.
I have written as below to seclegscrutiny@parliament.uk

    The National Health Service (Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition) (No. 2) Regulations 2013

I remain seriously concerned by these regulations. In my view the rewrite does almost nothing to address the assurances given repeatedly by ministers from both Houses that Commissioning Groups will be free to commission services in the way that they consider best for their patients.

There continues to be a presumption in favour of putting every aspect of NHS care out to competition. (see clause 5). This will undoubtedly be costly even if no disgruntled providers challenge decisions, and could be catastrophic if some contracts are contested in the courts. (cf West Coast Main Line).

The assurance that it will be Commissioning Groups and not the Secretary of State, nor the regulator that determines how procurement is handled is contradicted by clauses 10, 13 and 15.

The basic drive of these regulations will be to bog down the commissioning process, and even if all the paperwork and negotiations were at zero cost, and even if every contract is let without any disagreement or error the process will inevitably lead to a degree of fragmentation of healthcare delivery.

I fear that these regulations do not deliver what ministers have promised, and if implemented will seriously harm the NHS.

Charles West

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