My mission statement

The times we are working in now need a great deal of accelerated change and there must be no negotiating that down. So my mission statement for this part of my consultancy career is to be clear that there needs to be and will be a lot of change from the work that I do with individuals and organisations and if organisations don’t want that, then it is probably best to go somewhere else.

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Secretary of State in the dock – accused of breaking the Government’s own rules

Filed Under (Primary Care Trusts, Secretary of State, Third party provision) by Paul on 17-12-2009

On the 30th January this year the Government set up the Cooperation and Competition  Panel to ‘ help ensure NHS funded services deliver high quality care for patients and value for money for taxpayers’

The then Minister of State for Health Ben Bradshaw welcomed the setting up of the panel and said,

“I am pleased that the Panel has now started work. With patients now able to choose their provider for NHS services, it will play a vital role in safeguarding the interests of patients and taxpayers by ensuring that competition to provide health services is fair and transparent. We know that competition helps drive up quality and improve standards in the care that patients receive…”

The Government clearly had a view that the growing amount of competition in the NHS needed someone to watch the rules and keep the interests of patients and taxpayers to the fore.

The Panel has had a number of referrals on issues ranging from individual complaints from providers on how they have been treated in the delivery of contracts by PCTs, to a number of investigations into how PCTs are developing their provider services.

Today a new case was brought against the Chief Executive of Great Yarmouth and Waveney PCT. The case has been brought by ACEVO. But as the Chief Executive of ACEVO has made clear in making the complaint, this is not really about the PCT but about the Secretary of State’s personal preference for the NHS as his preferred provider.

The complaint to the Panel makes this clear by calling into question, not only the conduct of the PCT, but also the conduct of the Secretary of State.

“The conduct in question is as follows. This year Great Yarmouth and Waveney PCT signaled its intention to providers that it intended to invite tenders for its Community Services, currently being delivered by the PCT’s own provider arm. It held an information day on 5 October 2009, and informed providers that it intended to issue a Memorandum of Information and Pre-Qualification Questionnaire in October or November.

Having decided that the best way to meet the needs of its patients and population was to tender these services openly to all providers in the market, the PCT then reversed its decision and on 24 November informed interested parties that it would now only accept bids from NHS organisations On 25 November the PCT Board met to approve and develop the revised approach.

In explaining this reversal, the PCT did not suggest that it had changed its view that tendering the service would be the best way to meet the needs of its patients and population. Rather, it attributed the reversal of its previous decision to the Secretary of State’s statement that “the NHS is our preferred provider.”

ACEVO bring this case against the Secretary of State because his personal preference is placing third sector organisations at a disadvantage in providing services to NHS patients.

The Secretary of State now finds himself being brought before a Committee that his own Government has set up. The Committee will raise questions not only about the conduct of the PCT but about the Secretary of State’s conduct.

The independence of the committee will make this an interesting case that will take about 40 days to consider.

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