Section 75 regulations
Earlier this year, the Government introduced subsequent secondary legislation to the Health and Social Care Act. The regulations put forward, set out in law the requirements of the NHS in regards to procurement, patient choice and competition.
Concerns were initially raised about the regulations, which could cause confusion around the competition processes applied to commissioners. This particular issue was addressed at length during the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill, with many groups such as the RCN, vehemently opposed to such a privatised approach. During this time, the government assured MPs and Peers that competition would not be forced on commissioners; however, the first set of regulations appeared to go against this guarantee.
Monitor, the foundation trust regulator, will play a central role in policing the use of competition with the new NHS landscape. During the passage of these regulations the RCN called for Monitor to issue robust guidance which would set out clearly the roles, responsibilities and expectations on commissioners and providers in regard to the use of competition. Monitor has now published these guidance documents for consultation. The RCN has produced a briefing, see more information and details of the consultation.
For background information on the NHS (Procurement, Patient choice and Competition) Regulations and the RCN's work on this, please read the documents below.
A number of professional bodies, trade unions and stakeholders, including the RCN, called for the regulations to be withdrawn. Following successful lobbying on RCN members' behalf, the regulations were withdrawn and reissued by Government, which has made further assurances on the purpose of the regulations and the scope to apply competition rules to commissioners. The Government has also committed to providing comprehensive guidance on the regulations to prevent any confusion. This guidance will be subject to a consultation process, to which the RCN will contribute.
The reissued regulations were debated in the House of Lords on Wednesday 24 April, the vote was passed in the Government's favour and the regulations will now become law. The RCN issued a briefing to all Peers ahead of this debate in the House of Lords outlining our continued concerns about the regulations.
During RCN Congress in Liverpool, an emergency resolution on the section 75 regulations was voted on by RCN members ahead of the House of Lords debate. The resolution called on the House of Lords to reject the section 75 regulations. The resolution was passed with 96.52 per cent voting in favour.
Navigating the new NHS
The RCN has produced a series of resources for members on navigating the new NHS in England. We know that the NHS is undergoing an intense period of change with a significant number of new organisations taking up their new roles on 1 April 2013 as part of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Find out more about navigating the new NHS, including an overview of the reforms and what they mean for nursing.