GPs 'winning the argument' on toning down NHS reform

GP leaders believe they are 'clearly starting to win the argument' on NHS reform after deputy prime minister Nick Clegg challenged plans to drive up competition in the NHS.

Mr Clegg: the role set out for the regulator Monitor in the Health Bill must change.
Mr Clegg: the role set out for the regulator Monitor in the Health Bill must change.

The Health Bill is now almost certain to undergo significant changes before it moves on to the House of Lords later this year, GP leaders have said.

Mr Clegg is reported to have told a meeting of Liberal Democrat MPs and peers on Tuesday night that the role set out for the regulator Monitor in the Health Bill must change.

Monitor should have a duty to promote collaboration instead of competition in the NHS, and should not be simply an ‘economic regulator’, Mr Clegg is reported to have said.

His comments echo views expressed by Professor Steve Field, the former RCGP chairman now leading the NHS Future Forum, a panel set up to lead the listening exercise on NHS reform.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said the deputy prime minister’s comments were a ‘significant development’.

‘We have articulated deep concerns about the proposed powers and duties of Monitor for some time,’ he said.

‘Nick Clegg is highlighting much of what we’ve said – a duty to promote competition would be destructive. We want Monitor to promote collaboration and integrated, comprehensive care across local areas.’

Dr Vautrey said the whole section of the Health Bill about redesigning Monitor could now be stripped out and replaced. The Bill will go through its third reading in the House of Commons sometime after the listening exercise comes to an end in the next fortnight.

Dr Vautrey said: ‘MPs have to have the chance to debate those changes prior to it going to the Lords.

‘We have many other concerns about the Bill. But I think we are clearly starting to win the argument.’

Nick Bostock

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