Monitor gives CCGs competition freedom but insists patients are key

Clinical commissioning group (CCG) leaders have been reassured by the chairman of Monitor that the use of competition is an issue for them to decide with the NHS Commissioning Board.

Mr Bennett: 'If what you’re doing is in the best interests of patients, hopefully it should be consistent with the rules.’
Mr Bennett: 'If what you’re doing is in the best interests of patients, hopefully it should be consistent with the rules.’

Speaking at a meeting of 150 CCG leaders in London on Tuesday, Monitor chairman David Bennett said: ‘Our job is to ensure that where competition is used it is used fairly. If what you’re doing is in the best interests of patients, hopefully it should be consistent with the rules.’

He posed the question of what happens in a community where provider GPs achieve a dominant position. ‘If there is abuse that is of detriment to patients, that’s a problem. If you’re careful not to do that, there isn’t a problem,’ he added.

NHS Alliance chairman Dr Michael Dixon said: ‘We found what you said very reassuring. I think some people might have thought of you as a policeman but I hope ours can be a personal relationship rather than one of envelopes and the like.’

Tweeting from the event, Professor Steve Field, chairman of the DH’s Future Forum looking at NHS reform, said the emphasis on patient interests was the result of his group’s intervention.

Mr Bennett acknowledged that Monitor may have a role to play in intervening in disputes between trusts and commissioners where commissioners were unhappy that hospital unscheduled admissions were being reduced but that trust bills were not.

He added that it was as yet unclear whether GP providers would be exempt from licensing by Monitor.

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