Labour still intends to repeal the Health Act 2012 despite the shift in focus away from competition in the NHS Five Year Forward View, a shadow health minister has told HSJ.
The document - published today by NHS England, Monitor and the other national NHS bodies - made no reference to competition or private providers. It is understood that competition is not an important focus of the senior national leaders’ vision for service development.
However, Labour peer and former health minister Lord Hunt today told HSJ there “absolutely” needed to be a legal change to change the effect of competition rules, regardless of the shift in policy emphasis.
It was “very important to get rid of part three of the act” which gives sector regulator Monitor its powers, because “you will find that [clinical commissioning groups], for instance, will say that [they] have to tender out services”.
Lord Hunt said: “We think that the kind of enforced competition that the 2012 act introduced is a complete waste of time and money, and we want to remove it.”
Asked whether Labour planned to meet the additional funding which the forward view says will be required - on top of the additional £2.5bn a year which the party has committed to - he said: “This is something that Ed Balls will focus on nearer to the election.
“At the moment, all I can say is I see [Labour’s £2.5bn pledge] as a very significant injection of resource for the future.”
Lord Hunt, commenting on the forward view in general, said he agreed with its “broad principles” and that he “really look[s] forward to working with it”.
He said it was a “very well written document” which “poses many challenges to the current government”.
Speaking at the Best Practice conference on general practice in Birmingham, Lord Hunt said the forward view indicates to the government that it “needs to be tougher” on prevention and public health.
He said Labour was “open” to the new models of care outlined in the forward view. They would “have to be rooted in general practice or hospitals working with community services”, he said.
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Labour 'still plans Health Act repeal'