Private providers kept out of NHS by 'cultural bias'

Commissioners are making it too hard for new providers to break into provision of NHS services, a report by health regulator Monitor warns.

Monitor chairman David Bennett: providers want more access to NHS services
Monitor chairman David Bennett: providers want more access to NHS services

Monitor’s interim Fair Playing Field review published this week said that providers are worried about ‘poor commissioning procedures’ which favour incumbent providers at the expense of potential new bidders.

More than 100 respondents have so far contributed to Monitor’s review which aims to examine whether there is an equal footing for all types of provider to take on NHS services.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt is due to lay his report on providers of NHS-funded services before parliament by March 2013.

Monitor chief executive David Bennett said: ‘A number of commentators and stakeholders have speculated about who wins and who loses under current arrangements. However, I would like to be clear that our work is fundamentally driven by what is best from the perspective of patients and the services they use. That will be the benchmark against which we test our findings and develop recommendations.’

Director of the NHS Confederation's NHS Partners Network, David Worskett, said: ‘It is absolutely critical that commissioners purchase the very best services. To do this they need to engage in an open and transparent tendering process which allows a diverse range of providers, from both the NHS and the independent sector, to compete for contracts.

‘Commissioners often have a cultural bias towards the incumbent which is out of step with the direction of travel in healthcare today.’

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