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Monitor statement on the publication of the Health and Social Care Bill

19th January 2011

Monitor strongly supports the Government’s proposals to move to a more devolved system for the NHS, with increased competition in healthcare, as set out in the Health and Social Care Bill.

The Bill proposes that Monitor will take on the role of independent economic regulator for all health and adult social care in England. As the economic regulator, Monitor would have four main roles:

  • Licensing providers
  • Price setting
  • Promoting competition
  • Supporting service continuity

In addition we will have an ongoing and important role in regulating foundation trusts.

Commenting on the Bill published today, Dr David Bennett, Interim Chief Executive said:

"Monitor strongly supports the Government’s proposals to move to a more devolved system for the NHS, with increased competition in healthcare, as set out in the Health and Social Care Bill. We believe these proposals are good for foundation trusts, increasing their freedom and giving them more room to innovate and respond to local needs, working closely with GPs in their area. This should result in new and improved services for patients.

"In Monitor’s view, introducing more competition into healthcare is an important step in raising the productivity of the sector and delivering ever higher quality care for patients.  However, competition must be seen as a means and not an end in itself.  We do not support competition for its own sake, but as a way to drive innovation, quality and efficiency.  It has delivered significant benefits in other sectors and has been shown to improve quality within healthcare and other sectors under the right circumstances.

"In particular we welcome the Government’s intention that we will become the economic regulator for health and adult social care. We believe it is right to have an economic regulator which is independent of political influence, can build specialist skills and is transparent in the way it sets prices, promotes competition and deals with failure, both of markets and of institutions.

“Monitor is delighted that, on many aspects of the proposals, the Government has listened to our earlier concerns and acted on our advice. We look forward to following the passage of the Bill through Parliament. In particular, we are keen to see whether, in line with the Government’s own objectives, some further strengthening of the independence of both foundation trusts and of the economic regulator will be possible.

"For now though, it’s very much business as usual. Monitor will continue to focus on ensuring that existing foundation trusts are compliant with their terms of authorisation and on assessing applicant trusts against our usual standards. We will also provide what support we can to the Department of Health / SHA team that has been established to drive the foundation trust pipeline, to help them ensure that all trusts are ready to become foundation trusts or part of a foundation trust by the 2014 deadline."

 

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