Government consults on the regulation of healthcare providers

Department of Health consultation paper (34 pages, PDF) on proposals concerning the role and powers of foundation trusts and of Monitor as an economic regulator. The consultation closes on 11 October 2010.

On foundation trusts

The paper puts forward a number of proposals concerning the role and powers of foundation trusts. These include proposals to:

The above can be seen as moving foundation trusts' powers and freedom closer to those of other, namely private, health providers.

On Monitor

With regard to regulation, the paper proposes that the Commission for Quality of Care (CQC) and Monitor "be jointly responsible for administering an integrated and streamlined registration and licensing regime". CQC is to be responsible for registering providers of health and adult social care. In addition, those providing NHS healthcare services must hold a licence from Monitor. The general licence conditions to be imposed by Monitor relate to the requirement that the organisation is a fit and proper body to provide NHS services, and that the organisation provide information to Monitor on the services it provides and data deemed by Monitor necessary for it to set national tariffs (e.g. data on costs).

The paper proposes that Monitor's regulatory activities should be funded by charging fees to the licensed providers, and receive a grant-in-aid from central government if needed to fund other activities. Monitor's expenditure in 2009/2010 was just under £16 million (2009/2010 annual report, 109 pages, PDF).

On the regulators' role in promoting competition

The paper sets out proposals regarding the role of Monitor and of the NHS Commissioning Board in promoting competition. The NHS Commissioning Board is to have a duty to promote patient choice and Monitor a "duty to promote competition, where appropriate." In particular, Monitor will have "powers to impose remedies and sanctions to address restrictions on competition, through its licensing regime, and through concurrent powers with the Office of Fair Trading to enforce aspects of competition law." The paper clarifies that Monitor's power to enforce competition law within the health and adult social care sector will extend to all health and social care providers, and not be limited to providers required to hold a licence.

With regards to mergers in the sector, the responsibilities for investigation will remain with the OFT and the Competition Commission.

The wider context

This consultation paper is part of a wider consultation exercise on the implementation of the proposals set out in the July 2010 White Paper "Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS" setting out the Government's proposed reforms to the NHS.

For further information or advice please contact Pedro Fernandes.

Filed under Department of Health, Healthcare.

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