Third sector no longer preferred provider for NHS?

Social Enterprise mag has an interesting story about NHS service delivery by social enterprises. In the last few days, the Co-operation and Competition Panel for NHS-Funded Services has dropped a case it had been investigating since 5 January, brought by the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) and the NHS Partners Network.

The case focussed on a decision by NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney to withdraw a tender opportunity to the community sector after health secretary Andy Burnham described the NHS as the ‘preferred provider’ of NHS services. The panel dropped the case after receiving a letter from the Department of Health director general in charge of commissioning and system management.

ACEVO chief exec Stephen Bubb claims that the NHS has muzzled its own panel. An item on his blog says that the Dept of Health has intervened to prevent the competition Panel hearing the complaint and has cancelled the whole commissioning process in East of England.

Bubb says this this is “a disgusting example of political manipulation” and that ever since Burnham announced that the third sector is no longer a preferred provider to the NHS and that competition is to favour state provision ACEVO has heard countless stories from its members about how relationships with commissioners are deteriorating.

In fact, the Health Service Journal (HSJ) has gone as far as to say that the Co-operation & Competition Panel is being gagged precisely to stop Burnham’s “preferred provider” policy being exposed as illegal.

  1. Simon Lee Reply

    If true, this is very worrying.

    Whilst I do not consider that social enterprise is the answer to everything, I do think that it has a vital role to play in the provision of services to the public, not least in health.

    The Burnham speech has certainly led to a lot of confusion as it seems to contradict a lot of health policy in recent years, though Right to Request (for example) is said to be completely unaffected by this.

    I will be following this debate with interest.

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