Labour has put forward amendments to the Health Bill to remove Monitor’s planned powers as an enforcer of competition law.
Shadow health secretary John Healey told journalists on Tuesday that, under competition law, commissioning consortia co-operating with hospitals to coordinate local services could “clearly be regarded as anti-competitive, as collusive, possibly even as [cartels]”.
NHS organisations would need “an army of lawyers… and they will have to take out significant insurance against [legal] challenges”, he said.
Mr Healey said Labour would also call on the government to publish any legal advice it had taken on the implications of applying competition law to the NHS.
He added: “We would be making this argument anyway. What has changed is the stepping up of the challenge this week, not least because of the concern which is clear among the British Medical Association and clear among the Liberal Democrats.”