A Conservative government would return to an “any willing provider” model, the shadow health secretary has said.

Addressing delegates at last week’s NHS Employers conference in Birmingham, Andrew Lansley said all primary care trust providers should be encouraged to request to become social enterprises or apply for community foundation trust status.

But he said the government’s new policy of treating the NHS as the preferred provider would damage social enterprises. “[Government policy] will have a very chilling and damaging effect on social enterprises [that] think they can provide services within the NHS,” he said.

“I want to make it absolutely clear that we’re committed to an any willing provider policy. We must look for whoever is best able to deliver the care and services we want for patients,” he said.

Mr Lansley said the social enterprise model offered PCTs the chance to improve employee engagement while remaining within the NHS.

The shadow health secretary also said he wanted the foundation trust regime simplified and defended his plans to cut by a third the administrative costs of PCTs, strategic health authorities, quangos and the Department of Health.