NHS told not to be a 'slave to competition'5th May 2011
Anna Walker, the former chief executive of the Healthcare Commission, has told the NHS it should not become a "slave to competition".
Ms Walker said that although competition played a vital part in making the health service function more efficiently, MPs had to absorb knowledge from other sectors and place limits on how much involvement private firms were given.
Her comments came as private firms objected to 'scaremongering' about government plans to open the NHS to competition from the private sector.
Unions have said this puts the health service in danger of becoming a private entity.
Ms Walker, who left the Healthcare Commission in 2009 and now heads the Office of Rail Regulation, said while competition could modernise the health service, it needed to be thoughtfully controlled.
"In my experience, competition is a complex beast. What we have developed [in the rail industry] is a much more sophisticated understanding of when it helps and when it doesn't. My message: don't be a slave to competition," Ms Walker said.
She explained that if the changes did not result in the health service being more productive it could have serious consequences.
She said: "There is going to come a point that if the NHS is not delivering efficiently for people then gradually there will be a debate about whether everybody wants to contribute. If that happens society is going to be a huge loser."
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