Monitor should support integration, says listening exercise chairman

Putting a duty on NHS regulator Monitor to support integrated healthcare could be one way of addressing concerns around competition in the NHS, the chairman of the government's listening exercise has said.

Professor Field: Putting a duty on Monitor to support integrated health care around the patient could be a way of addressing concerns on competition in the NHS
Professor Field: Putting a duty on Monitor to support integrated health care around the patient could be a way of addressing concerns on competition in the NHS

Talking at an NAPC conference on commissioning in London, Professor Steve Field said the listening exercise highlighted that patients don’t want to see the NHS de-stabilised through competition.

He said: ‘One of my suggestions so far is that, if we are going to have the Bill in some form as it is at the moment, I believe putting a duty on Monitor to support and encourage integrated health care around the patient might be one of those solutions.'

The message was reiterated by Sir Stephen Bubb, the NHS Future Forum’s lead on choice and competition, this morning on the Today programme. He said legislating that Monitor should promote competition ‘probably gives a rather poor signal’.

He said: ‘It may be that we will recommend removing that "promote competition" from the Bill. It is one of the points that a lot of people have been making to us. So we may do that.

‘What I think Monitor’s job is actually about, is ensuring there is more choice and better health outcomes which means promoting integrated healthcare, co-operation between different providers, health and social care.’

But talking at a King’s Fund event on competition in London last week, Sir Stephen also said competition will play an ‘important role’ in the NHS.

He said the panel’s report back to government, which is expected by June, will look at the role of Monitor and whether it should be ‘the job of the NHS to promote competition’.

He said: ‘We now have effectively three weeks to come to conclusion and produce a report so of course we are already thinking about ideas about that report. The process is clearly well underway.’

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