Yesterday’s SHA Central Council reached an agreement on the principles we think should underlie proposals for the future of the NHS in England:
We continue to support the founding principles of the NHS, which should now also be applied to personal social care to enable integration.
We do not support competition or market forces as the route to improving clinical services for the future of the NHS in England.
We accept that using private providers will continue to be necessary but only where there is genuine innovation or the NHS is unable to deliver what is required.
We support preferred provider and the freedom of commissioners from the imposition of Any Qualified Provider or competitive tendering; the NHS should be taken out of the ambit of competition legislation.
We believe issues around accountability, openness and transparency are more important than ownership.
Planning needs to be clear of vested interests and needs to be democratically accountable. We do not support the removal of the commissioner/provider split but we would limit the use by commissioners of market mechanisms and the use of private sector advisors linked to providers.
So we see the future of the NHS in England as not entirely publicly owned, nor publicly provided and still with a Commissioner /Provider split.
Our policy is based in part on the pragmatic acceptance that the system does not need a further major reorganisation and that removal of all private providers would be hugely disruptive and expensive even if it was possible.
As Aneurin Bevan said: ‘The essence of a satisfactory health service is that the rich and poor are treated alike, that poverty is not a disability and wealth is not advantaged.’