Philip Dunne told a fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham that leaving the EU would create scope for a ‘British approach’ to procurement currently governed by European directives.
The health minister said his previous department, the Ministry of Defence, estimated that tendering for services under EU rules took at least 18 months.
‘I'm quite sure we could do things quicker in the future if we are not subject to that directive,' he said. ‘But whether that will lead to UK public bodies looking to shortcut procedures is hard to tell at this point.’
He added: ‘I think many would like to. We have a habit of adopting best practice and gold standards in this country which tend to gold-plate directives coming out of Europe. I would hope in this area we could undermine, we could reduce it a bit in terms of timing.'
Health, said the minister, would be relatively untouched by the effects of Brexit, with workforce the most important area affected.
‘We have some 50,000 EU citizens working in our NHS system, over 80,000 working in the care system and it is essentially for the sustainability of the NHS over the next few years that we reassure those individuals that they are welcome and we want them to continue practising here,' he said. ‘It's a statement of the blindingly obvious.’
The minister's comments came ahead of health secretary Jeremy Hunt's conference speech, which is expected to feature a pledge to cut NHS reliance on overseas-trained doctors.