Peers reject high profile bid to halt NHS competition rules

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 25 April 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2706
  1. Adrian O’Dowd
  1. 1London

Peers have rejected a motion that would have forced a change to the rules governing competition when GPs are commissioning health services.

In a vote in the House of Lords on 24 April 254 peers rejected the motion put forward by Labour’s health spokesman, Philip Hunt, to annul the regulations, while 146 voted to support him.

During a two and a half hour debate peers put forward arguments about the extent to which the section 75 regulations in the Health and Social Care Act would open up all NHS services to market competition and result in possible legal challenges to clinical commissioning groups (CCG) from the private sector.

There has been significant opposition to the regulations from the BMA,1 the Royal College of General Practitioners, and other bodies, which claim that they will force almost every part of the NHS to be opened up to compulsory competition.

Last month the health minister Norman Lamb said that the regulations would be rewritten to make clear that “no CCG will be forced into competitive tendering,” and new regulations were published on 11 March.2

However, critics have said that they showed no significant improvement on the previous version; and on the day of the debate the Daily Telegraph published …

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