The government must push for greater competition in providing services, a thinktank has demanded.

Reform called on the government to boost competition by promoting open data, changing policies which protect inefficient providers and make service reconfiguration harder, reiterate its position on competition and relax central controls on workforce.

Its study ‘Healthy competition’ contains 10 case studies of health reform around the world - including some examples from the NHS as well as Europe, the US and India - which it says illustrate the benefits of competition. It argues the health service needs the freedom to innovate, and should focus on outcomes rather than inputs.

Thomas Cawston, senior researcher at Reform, said if the government dropped the competition elements of the Health Bill now it would be ”the worst of all possible worlds”.

The proposed commissioning arrangements with their ”confusion and complexity” were already being put into place but the competition elements of the bill would be lost, he said. Meanwhile, the government still seemed reluctant to accept closure of hospitals and seemed to be softening the proposed failure regime for providers. 

Nick Seddon, Reform’s deputy director, said: “If the NHS wants to be the best in the world, it should learn from the best in the world and the radical changes that other countries are implementing.”