Health Select Committee hears evidence on the Health and Social Care Act 2012

On Tuesday 11 June 2013, the Health Select Committee heard evidence from Dr David Bennett, Chairman and Chief Executive of Monitor, the NHS Confederation and Local Government Association.

Valerie said:

“The Section 75 Regulations of the Health and Social Care Act, which open up the NHS to competition law, were not debated in Parliament. Clinicians and politicians were against these new regulations. I asked Dr Bennett to explain the fundamental differences between the previous regime and the current regime. Dr Bennett said he did not believe there was much difference between the two regimes. I asked what the point of the new regulations was and if he would write to the Health Select Committee about how the Regulations have not fundamentally changed, to which Dr Bennett agreed.”

“I asked Dr Bennett which part of EU law applies to the Section 75 Regulations. Dr Bennett citied the public procurement law, which is translated in the UK through the Public Contracts Regulations 2006. There is a requirement to treat all providers fairly. Dr Bennett said that the under certain circumstances the NHS is open to competition. Those circumstances are if the commissioner of services believes there is only one capable provider of the service or if the costs of going through a competitive process clearly outweigh going through that process.”

“I asked Dr Bennett why in Monitor’s Guidance it says that competition and integration are not mutually exclusive. I was told that the Commissioner could procure integrated services and use a competitive process to choose the best provider.”

“When I questioned Dr Bennett on how Monitor will enforce the regulations I was told it would be almost entirely complaint-driven, and Monitor would not be taking a proactive role in the Industry. I referred to Monitor’s consultation where they said that ‘Monitor is only able to make a declaration of ineffectiveness where a breach is sufficiently serious’. I asked if he could tell the committee the difference between a breach and a serious breach. I was told that this was not defined in the guidance. Dr Bennett said that Monitors approach will to make sure everyone is following the rules and not to punish people because they did not.”

The official recording of the Health Select Committee Evidence Session is available here: