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TUC Urgent Call For Action In Opposing NHS Competition Regulations

Last year, the government succeeded in forcing the controversial Health and Social Care Bill through Parliament. The opposition to it was so strong, from NHS professionals and patients alike, that they had to make a number of promises on how they would approach it.

Crucially, ministers promised that that the new commissioning groups would not have to open up all services to markets and privatisation, and that local people would have the final say on who provided their services.

Click to register your opposition But now, the government have laid before Parliament the regulations they plan to use to implement the act. They contain new requirements for most commissioning by the National Commissioning Board (NCB) and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to be done through competitive markets.

Under the new regulations for Section 75 of the bill, a contract can only be awarded to an NHS provider without competition in an “emergency” or technically restricted circumstances, even if that’s what the CCG and local people want for their service. If CCGs do not comply, the regulations give watchdog Monitor the power to enforce privatisation procedures.

These regulations will pass into law on 1 April unless enough of us make it clear we do not agree.

The first opportunity to challenge them is at the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee in the Lords. Their job is to scrutinise regulations to see if they match the aims of the original legislation, and their help could be vital in exposing and overturning this attempt to force privatisation of our local health services.

But time is of the essence!!

The Committee are meeting soon and need their evidence submitted by noon on Tuesday 26 February. Please help us lobby the committee about why it’s so important to reject this attempt to sneak privatisation into the new NHS regulations.

You are urged also to contact your MP - use the link at the end of this article, and sign the 38 degrees campaign petition - again the link is at the bottom of this page.

These are the major points to consider when making your comments:

  • Do you have concerns about a particular local service, as a service user, NHS staff member or local commissioner? Showing a range of experiences will be important in showing the breadth of opposition.
  • The government gave guarantees to the Lords when the original Bill was passing. Earl Howe (Government Health Spokesperson in the Lords) said: “Clinicians will be free to commission services in the way they consider best. We intend to make it clear that commissioners will have a full range of options and that they will be under no legal obligation to create new markets….” (6/3/12, Hansard)
  • The regulations break these promises by requiring nearly all commissioning to be carried out through competitive markets, forcing through privatisation regardless of the will of local people and their commissioning groups.
  • The regulations contain legal powers for health watchdog Monitor to enforce privatisation, including at the request of private companies which lost bids.
  • You might also have heard of the successful Gloucestershire campaign which overturned privatisation of nine hospitals, instead keeping them in the NHS without tendering (in October 2012, after the Act was passed). This option will no longer be possible if these regulations go through.
  • The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee is established to scrutinise the policy content of regulations, to see if it is a fair interpretation of the original legislation. In this case, the regulations for Section 75 are undermining the amendments that Parliament made to the Bill

Submit your comments to the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee in the Lords here TODAY!

Sign the 38 Degrees petition NOW!

Write to your MP NOW!

Source: TUC / 38 Degrees

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