Legislation needed to speed NHS Long Term Plan

8 March 2019

The government’s plans to reform how the NHS spends its money could be delayed unless legislation is passed to support the plans, according to a new report.

A report by the Public Accounts Clinical Commissioning Groups inquiry warned that delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan will be slowed without legislative changes.

One of the most important elements of the plan includes freeing up NHS commissioners to decide the circumstances in which they use procurement processes. 

According to the report, NHS England believes it can still deliver the NHS Long Term Plan without the legislative changes, however progress would be quicker with the changes.

The report said: “The Department welcomes the proposals for legislative changes from NHS England and it will be for government to consider and bring forward changes to legislation.”

In January, SM reported that the NHS Long Term Plan was calling for a radical shift in how commercial relationships are conducted. 

Among the changes is the creation of a new centralised procurement organisation, Supply Chain Coordination Limited (SCCL).

The system would help the NHS use its “purchasing power on a national scale to get the best deals and deliver high quality affordable care for patients”.

The NHS plans to double the volume of products bought through SCCL to 80% by 2022, as well as extending the number of nationally contracted products and consolidating the way local and regional procurement teams operate.

The plan also says that NHS managers automatically having to go through procurement processes leads to wasted procurement costs and fragmented provision.

Current rules and processes for procurement, pricing and mergers are “skewed more towards fostering competition than to enabling rapid integration of care planning and delivery”, it said.   

The plan was released after the prime minister and the Health and Social Care Committee requested a study of changes that would benefit the NHS.

According to the report, NHS Clinical Commissioners was supportive of the easing of procurement rules and giving CCGs and NHS trusts shared responsibility for health outcomes.

Among the legislation which could slow the implementation of the plan are the specific procurement requirements in the Health and Social Care 2012 Act.

Changes would also free the NHS from wholesale inclusion in the Public Contract Regulations.

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