Alliance calls for NHS providers to get priority

Posted on October 26, 2009. Filed under: News stories, Press/News Releases | Tags: , , |

Pulse | By Gareth Iacobucci | 26 October 2009

The NHS Alliance is urging the Government to slam the brakes on privatisation of NHS services by adopting new rules on APMS tendering.

Under its proposals PCTs would be barred from approaching independent providers unless they could satisfy detailed criteria that existing NHS services were not meeting quality standards.

In Scotland legislation has already been brought in to bar private companies from taking over the running of NHS services.

It also backs the Department of Health’s advice to NHS trusts to give current providers ‘at least two chances’ to improve where they are found to be under-performing, and for alternative providers to only be considered as a last resort.

In a paper entitled Rebalancing the Market, launched at last week’ NHS Alliance Conference in Manchester, the organisation backs the Government’s shift in emphasis, and recommends a revamp to the way services are tendered for.

For years PCTs have been encouraged to court private providers to bid for APMS contracts but the Alliance advises that in the future, PCTs should only invite private bidders in to bid to run services where there are no current providers of sufficient quality willing to tender.

It also calls on SHAs and PCTs to offer ‘formal support’ to NHS bidders during the tendering process, and recommends bidders be assessed on their ability to provide continuity of care and engage with local patient groups.

Dr Brian Fisher MBE, public and patient involvement lead, at the NHS Alliance, who presented the paper, said: ‘This will respect the importance of continuity in integration of local services and organisations that have historically provided a good local service.

‘It will encourage competition where services are of insufficient standard or too expensive, without destabilising primary care provision when it is already good.’

Market forces need to be put in service of patients

NHS Alliance | 21 October 2009

NHS organisations should be the first choice for commissioners as preferred providers, says the NHS Alliance. 

In a paper entitled Rebalancing the Market, which will be launched at the NHS Alliance 12th Annual Conference in Manchester, the organisation suggests two new approaches to tendering and commissioning that would improve cooperation and increase efficiencies. 

The paper states that tendering for services to include private bidders should be encouraged only when there are no current providers of sufficient quality prepared to offer extended services or conventional GP services at the right price. 

Dr Brian Fisher, National Public and Patient Involvement Lead, NHS Alliance, and the paper’s author, said: “Too often, the result of a business model is an NHS organisation that looks for increased income, which can come at the expense of patient care. The Alliance would like to see market forces better directed to improve the service to patients.” 

Although working with the independent sector has its advantages, it also poses many challenges, not least to the patient who, instead of being at the centre of healthcare planning, becomes part of a tug of war between primary and secondary care. 

Independent sector organisations may be more expensive and exit the market when the going gets tough. They may also decide to cut costs using short-term and/or inexperienced clinicians.

The paper also highlights that collaborative commissioning, programme budgeting and horizontal/vertical integration could be the answer to creating an environment where all partners have a common interest in improving care pathways and producing efficiencies. It says: “It may be that a cooperative approach works in some situations and not in others – there may well be a mixed set of approaches both within and between PCTs.”

For a copy of Rebalancing the Market or to arrange an interview with Dr Brian Fisher please contact the NHS Alliance press office on 07951204999/ 


Notes to Editors
1. For more information, please contact the NHS Alliance press office on 07951204999/ 

2. The NHS Alliance is the only independent body that brings together primary care trusts’ chief executives and other senior managers, doctors and practice managers, nurses, pharmacists and allied health professionals, along with board chairs and members. We are a value-driven organisation, with no political affiliation, which works in partnership with various bodies associated with the NHS to create a progressive health service that is free from the traditional tribalism of single interest groups.


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