Private sector welcomes care contracting reforms

Private providers have welcomed the Government’s new Health and Care Bill, saying it signals the start of an important debate about the NHS’s future direction.

David Furness, director of policy at the Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN), said it supported a move towards more integrated services, but the legislation should also be judged on whether it ensured patients had quick access to diagnosis and treatment.

He said the Health and Social Care Committee had rightly argued it was vital that new integrated care systems drew on the experience and expertise of all parts of the healthcare system, including the independent sector.

He called for a new procurement regime ‘that encourages innovation rather than incumbency’.

BMA deputy chairman Dr David Wrigley commented: ‘The BMA has long supported collaboration and called for the removal of enforced competition through Section 75, which the bill would achieve. 

‘However, the Government has to go further if the NHS is going to be truly protected from unnecessary and costly private sector involvement. The most effective way of doing that is to make the NHS the default option for NHS contracts and to only tender competitively where this is not possible. 

‘This is also vital to avoid the awarding of contracts without scrutiny to private providers at huge expense to the taxpayer, as was seen with the procurement of PPE and Test and Trace during the pandemic.’

IHPN briefs NHS boss

The Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN) has ensured new NHS England boss Amanda Pritchard is up to speed on what the private sector can offer.

Chief executive David Hare said: ‘Independent healthcare providers have played a pivotal role in supporting the NHS through the pandemic and we look forward to working with Amanda to build on these successful partnerships and ensure the health service is fully equipped to tackle the key challenges it faces post-Covid.’