Key players express doubt over whether health bill amendments will restrict competition in NHS

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 15 July 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4510
  1. Matthew Limb
  1. 1London

Monitor, whose role was expanded in the Health and Social Care Bill from economic regulator of foundation trusts to economic regulator of the entire NHS, will put patients’ interests first in judging whether competition is beneficial and act to stop market abuses, its chairman has told a conference.

The UK Future Forum had insisted that competition should be dropped as Monitor’s primary duty. Instead, competition should be used as a tool for supporting choice, promoting integration, and improving quality and must never be pursued as an end in itself.

David Bennett, who is also acting as interim chief executive of Monitor, confirmed the forum’s recommendations. He said that the organisation would be able to facilitate competition and to encourage integration where appropriate and insisted that these aims were not contradictory, as some critics have said.

“Competition and cooperation are not mutually exclusive. We believe they can coexist,” he said. Monitor is due to take on the role of economic regulator in October 2012, subject to the health bill being passed.

Dr Bennett was the headline speaker …

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