12 OCT 2019
Thank you very much for writing to me about the NHS. One of the reasons that led me to become an MP was precisely to be able to use my experience from 24 years as a doctor to be better able to fight for improving healthcare. I have focused a great deal of my efforts as an MP and as Chair of the Health and Social Care Commission to that end.
There has been an abject failure on the part of successive governments to plan for the sheer scale of the long-term increase in demand for health and social care and for how we are going to share the costs and to make sure we have the workforce we need to provide the right care.
On your specific point about the trade deals and Trump, the greatest risk is probably to medicines and the intention expressed by the US to restrict negotiation on prices by the NHS. This would have very serious consequences.
I also think there need to be changes to the law to protect the NHS from undue competition and the committee I chair helped to shape the recommendations to government from the NHS which I hope will be in the Queens Speech. One of these was that the Competition and Markets Authority's (CMA) roles in the NHS, as provided for by the Health and Social Care Act 2012 (2012 Act), should be repealed. There is strong public and NHS staff support for scrapping section 75 of the 2012 Act and for removing the commissioning of NHS healthcare services from the jurisdiction of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015. Taken together, these changes would remove the presumption of automatic tendering of NHS healthcare services over £615k. Monitor's specific focus and functions in relation to enforcing competition law should also be abolished.
I am happy to assure you that I will continue to fight to keep our NHS free at the point of use. I do not think that this should mean removing all non-NHS providers or removing all choice for patients but there needs to be a principle that joint working as an integrated service is more important than competition. This is a complex area and you may be interested to read more about the legislative proposals https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/BM1917-NHS-recommendations-Government-Parliament-for-an-NHS-Bill.pdf
Whatever happens around legislation, we must ensure that the NHS and Social Care have the necessary funding and I will continue to campaign for this.
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