NHS England is planning to conduct new research on choice and competition in the NHS, according to the organisation’s latest business plan.
The research aims to “strengthen the evidence base on the introduction of choice and competition in healthcare services” and will also examine “how well choice is working across the country”.
Last week NHS England published a “refreshed” business plan covering its planned activities up to 2016-17.
One of the work streams listed in the plan is for the arm’s length body to “develop [its] strategic approach to choice and competition”.
A central goal of this work is for NHS England, in cooperation with Monitor and the Department of Health, to develop and implement a policy research programme focused on choice and competition by March 2015.
Paul Baumann, chief financial officer of NHS England, and Barbara Hakin, chief operating officer and deputy chief executive, are the national directors responsible for the work stream.
A spokeswoman for NHS England said the research would feed into the choice and competition framework – a toolkit the organisation is developing with Monitor to help commissioners navigate choice and competition issues.
She said: “The policy research programme will improve the resources available on the framework, in areas where commissioners tell us they need further information and assistance to help them make commissioning decisions in the best interest of patients.
“The scope of the programme is still under development and will be tested with commissioners and other stakeholders to ensure that it will meet their needs.”
Last month HSJ reported on tensions between NHS England and Monitor over competition guidance, with NHS England claiming Monitor had “unpicked the agreed content… of the choice and competition framework” and “pulled back from [the framework’s] agreed philosophy”.