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MPs call for collaborative approach to health and care provision

Committee suggests independent sector can contribute to more integrated services

Collaboration instead of competition is a better way for the NHS and the wider health and care system to respond to its challenges, MPs have said.

The Health and Social Care Committee, in its report on the NHS Long-Term Plan, said competition rules add costs and complexities, without corresponding benefits for patients and taxpayers in return.

“Choice and competition can help raise standards and encourage innovation, but, as an organising principle, collaboration is a better way to manage the rising demands on health and social care, improve joined up care for patients and deliver better value for taxpayers,” the committee said. “However, the NHS should not become a monopoly as this would not be in the best interests of patients.”

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, stated that the proposals in their current form are NHS-centric and the committee would like to see greater consideration of the wider system which the NHS seeks to integrate.

David Hare, chief executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN), said the report demonstrates that a diverse provider market, including the independent sector, can contribute to more integrated services for patients.

The committee has endorsed many of the points made by IHPN including the need for much greater detail and scrutiny of the proposed “best value” test for NHS procurement; proper protection of patient rights to choose put on a statutory basis; and safeguards against price competition resulting from changes to the national tariff. 

“Throughout the report the committee is clear that without further development the legislative proposals risk introducing unintended consequences and could even lead to the NHS becoming a ‘protectionist monopoly provider’,” said Hare. “We look forward to working with the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England, and other stakeholders, to ensure that the eventual proposals deliver the best possible outcomes for patients and taxpayers.”