New consultations aim to protect the interests of patients

Published on Wednesday, 15 August 2012 11:32
Posted by Scott Buckler

The Department of Health has published two consultations, which will help ensure that patients' interests will be protected throughout the health service

The changes being made to the health and care system are designed to put patients at the centre of decision-making and give commissioners the freedom to improve how patients are treated throughout the system.

Comprehensive regulation will not only ensure that the interests of patients and the wider public are safeguarded but also promote value for money in healthcare, whilst maintaining or improving quality.

These consultations set out proposals for how Monitor, as the sector regulator for the health service, will ensure that the new system operates in the best interest of patients.

Specifically, the consultations seek views in relation to:

Licensing – this covers which providers of NHS funded services will need to hold a licence with Monitor. For the first time, Monitor will regulate private and voluntary providers, setting out the safeguards to ensure patients receive the best quality care possible. These safeguards will also prevent abuses of power, such as providers charging higher prices to boost profits or refusing to cooperate in service integration.

Procurement, Choice and Competition – this covers how the health service can manage potential conflicts of interests in Clinical Commissioning Groups, including Monitor's role in investigating any claims of a breach of their code of conduct. This also explains how, for the first time, patients' rights to choice under the NHS Constitution will be enforceable wherever they live in England.

Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley said:

"The Health and Social Care Act puts the interests of patients and the public where they belong – at the heart of the NHS. We need to ensure that their interests are protected and that the health service is doing everything it can to help them, whilst not over burdening the NHS with unnecessary bureaucracy.  Commissioning, led by doctors and nurses, can use these principles to secure effective provision of services for their patients.

"That's why we've published these consultations on strengthening sector regulation in the NHS – to seek views on our proposals and whether we need to consider other issues. I would urge stakeholders to take part and feed in their comments and answers. With their help, we can help put the NHS on the side of patients."

The Department will report back on the consultations later in the year.

Source: ©DH

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