Voluntary sector threatened by NHS competition rules

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mccc logo Several leading charities, including Marie Curie Cancer Care, have said the new provider competition rules will prevent their having a role in NHS care.

The requirement to open up services to competition will make it more difficult for specialist non-profit care providers to be involved, the charities warned.

The voluntary sector statement, made in a briefing paper to peers, precedes a House of Lords debate on the hew NHS competition regulations.

The regulations, already described by a London GP as a blueprint for “lawyer-led commissioning”, will make it possible for private health providers to challenge any commissioning decision that does not follow UK competition law.

Charities including Sue Ryder, Marie Curie Cancer Care, the health and social care coalition National Voices and a number of hospice charities have said they are not able to compete with commercial providers.

One particular concern is that, in order to keep the administration of tendering manageable, CCGs will need to ‘bundle’ related services, shutting out specialist providers such as many charities.

The briefing paper said: “Wholesale competition… could lead to a diminishing of voluntary sector participation. We fear this will lead to a loss of specialist services and skills that will ultimately lead to poorer care for patients and their families.”

The reaction from the voluntary sector follows demands from the BMA and the Royal College of General Practitioners to scrap the competition regulations, which form section 75 of the Health and Social Care Act.