The Bill would rewrite the rules that force market tendering of services and that are seeing millions of pounds wasted on competition lawyers that should instead be spent on patients.
It will be debated in the Commons in November and Labour will use the intervening period to call on MPs from all sides to support the new law. Labour candidates in marginal seats will call on Tory and Liberal Democrat incumbents to back the Bill, whilst highlighting examples of how the current rules are wasting money and fragmenting care.
David Cameron's biggest mistake by far is his decision to break the Coalition Agreement promise of 'no top-down re-organisation of the NHS'. He is the Prime Minister who put the NHS up for sale without first seeking the permission of the British public.
Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs will now need to decide whether they are prepared to go into an Election defending that policy or whether they will do the decent thing and admit they got it wrong.
David Cameron's re-organisation has left the NHS, in the words of its former Chief Executive, 'bogged down in a morass of competition law'. If we leave things as they are, the NHS as we have known it for 66 years will not survive. This Bill will free the NHS from that morass and restore the right values to its heart: collaboration over competition; people before profits.”
The Bill will focus on two main areas:
1. Section 75 rules
These are the rules that many doctors say are forcing them to put services out to the market, even if they do not want to, for fear of legal challenge.
Labour oppose these regulations because they risk fragmenting care and are seeing large amounts of money spent on tendering exercises rather than patient care.
• In a recent survey by Health Service Journal, two thirds of commissioners said they had experienced increased commissioning costs as a result of the new regulations (Health Service Journal, 4 April 2014)
• Last year, the Chief Executive of the NHS said “You’ve got competition lawyers all over the place, causing enormous difficulty...We are getting, in my view, bogged down in a morass of competition law which is causing . . . significant cost in the system” (Sir David Nicholson, Financial Times, 5 November 2013).
Labour will scrap these rules and return to a system based on collaboration and integration.
2. Competition framework
The Health & Social Care Act exposed the NHS to the full force of EU competition law. It also established Monitor as an economic regulator to enforce competition in the NHS, along with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Labour opposes this framework because it is hindering important service improvements, and is seeing further large amounts of money wasted on competition administration and competition lawyers.
The Efford Bill would scrap the competition framework, remove the role of Monitor as an economic regulator enforcing competition in the NHS, and remove the Competition and Markets Authority from any role in the NHS.