Lancashire GP and GPC member Dr David Wrigley has accused the government of forcing privatisation on the NHS. Regulations laid down in parliament on 13 February state that commissioners may only award a contract without competition if they are 'satisfied that the services to which the contract relates are capable of being provided only by that provider'.
Now Dr Wrigley is urging NHS workers to sign a letter to be sent to a national newspaper in a bid to get MPs to debate the regulations and vote against them becoming law. The regulations are due to become law on 1 April as part of the Health and Social Care Act.
Dr Wrigley said: 'GPs were given explicit reassurances in 2012 by Andrew Lansley and other ministers in order to prop up the ailing Health Bill when it was in severe trouble last year around the use of the private sector in commissioning.
'GP commissioners were told they would be allowed local choice about when to use competition. But these new regulations do not allow local freedom to decide when to use competition in the provision of our healthcare. That is disingenuous and we need to force a debate in parliament to discuss these regulations. My open letter will hopefully go some way towards bringing that debate about.'
The letter reads: 'We write as doctors and healthcare workers who are worried about the latest attempt by the government to irreparably damage our NHS. The government has just laid secondary legislation (under Section 75 of the Health and Social Care Act) to force virtually every part of the English NHS to be opened up to *compulsory* competitive markets, open to the private sector to bid for NHS contracts. In just over a month these regulations will be law.
'Parliament does not normally even debate or vote on this type of regulation – but it is possible.'
A DH spokesman was unavailable to comment at the time of going to press.