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Draft guidance published for commissioners procuring patient services

Monitor is seeking views on proposed guidance to help commissioners comply with new procurement, patient choice and competition regulations so that their patients receive the best possible health services.  

Under the Health and Social Care Act 2012, commissioners have responsibility for deciding what services are best for patients. The regulations passed by Parliament last month under Section 75 of the Act are intended to give commissioners flexibility when they decide how to procure services from health care providers. The guidance will help them make sure the decisions they make are consistent with the new regulations.

Monitor's role will be limited to making sure that commissioners have operated within the legal framework established by the regulations and to investigating complaints about procurement decisions.

Over the next two months Monitor will be formally consulting on the guidance to make sure that it is a clear reference point for commissioners as they go about their work.

Dr. David Bennett, Chief Executive at Monitor, said:

"It is for commissioners to decide what services to purchase and how best to secure them for their local population. Monitor's role is limited to ensuring that commissioners have operated within the legal framework established by the regulations. Our guidance is intended to be a practical tool that helps them improve the quality of services, and that is why we are consulting clinical commissioning groups and others on this draft"

"The guidance makes it clear that the regulations do not force commissioners to go out to tender for every service, but equally commissioners should not simply roll-over existing contracts without first asking how good the service is, and whether it could be improved to give patients a better deal. If so, the next steps might be evaluating alternative providers if there are any and if not negotiating a better arrangement with the existing provider. These are matters for commissioners to consider in exercising their duties.  As a sector regulator, Monitor will be able investigate any complaints about procurement decisions in England as an alternative to bringing cases before the courts."

Notes to Editors

  • For further information please contact Isabella Sharp, Media Relations Manager (isabella.sharp@monitor.gov.uk, 020 7340 2442)
  • The National Health Service (Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition) (No 2)  Regulations 2013 were introduced as part of the changes made through the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and came into force on 1 April 2013.
  • Monitor has consulted the Department of Health and NHS England in preparing the draft guidance. The draft enforcement guidance, substantive guidance, and case studies can be found on our website. Responses to the consultation are invited until 11th July.
  • Monitor is the sector regulator of NHS-funded health care services. Under the Health and Social Care Act 2012 its main duty is to protect and promote the interests of people who use them. Information about Monitor’s role can be found here
  • Monitor is now on Twitter - follow us @MonitorUpdate 

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