Monitor could investigate 'anti-competitive' commissioners, says DoH

Healthcare regulator Monitor could be given new powers to investigate commissioners it believes have acted in an anti-competitive way, government plans reveal.

In it's consultation document, ‘Regulating healthcare providers’, the DoH proposes to legislate that the NHS Commissioning Board and commissioners must ‘promote choice, act transparently and non-discriminatory in all commissioning activities’.

It said the NHS Commissioning Board and commissioners will not be able to prohibit agreements or other actions that would restrict competition against patients and taxpayers’ interests.

It added: ‘Monitor will have powers to investigation and remedy complaints regarding commissioners’ procurement decisions, or other anticompetitive conduct, acting as arbiter.’

Meanwhile, the consultation documents also outlined that while GP consortia will retain primary responsibility for ensuring the continuity of service provision, Monitor could be given powers to intervene in ‘some limited circumstances’.

It said: ‘The objective of these measures is to ensure that there is a smooth transfer if commissioners wish to replace existing services with better alternatives, or to ensure service continuity should a provider become insolvent.’

Under the proposed new approach, Monitor will be able to classify services which require ‘additional regulation’ and set conditions in providers’ licenses to protect the continuity of these services.

It said: ‘It will be for Monitor to set out the criteria for defining additional regulated services.

‘These criteria are likely to focus on identifying where a provider is the only provider or one of very few providers of services in a local area.’

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