Andrew Lansley has written to the Office of Fair Trading, calling for an urgent investigation into the government’s “preferred provider” policy.

The shadow health secretary’s letter follows the Department of Health intervening to stop a cooperation and competition panel investigation that was likely to question the policy. 

In the letter, Mr Lansley says: “It is clear that NHS organisations are continuing to apply the [preferred provider] policy, and extending it to a wide range of procurements. In doing so, they are acting in a way that is to the detriment of patients across the country.

“I am writing to you since the powers of the CCP do not allow them to investigate the policy of the DH, its impact on competition and the potential resulting detriment to consumers, whereas the Office of Fair trading has such a power under the Competition Act.

“I am therefore writing to ask if the OFT will, as a matter of urgency given the circumstances, undertake an investigation into the application of the preferred provider policy in the NHS.”