126,944 members

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation


Privatised DH will compete for best policy at lowest price

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Privatised DH will compete for best policy at lowest price

In the latest move aimed at creating more choice and competition in the NHS, the Department of Health is to be privatised.

The new-look department, to be renamed MyHealthAgenda Plc, will no longer have a monopoly on policy advice and guidance, which from now on will be developed in what the government calls “a diverse ecosystem of entrepreneurial private providers”.

The government has long been known to be unhappy with having to rely on a single source of advice on health policy.

“Introducing competition will mean that we will have a much wider choice of policies. Market forces will also ensure we pay the best possible price for them,” it said in a statement.

Observers acknowledged that the public sector had been hampered by the “single provider model”, which limited the availability of ideas and kept prices artificially high. 

Professor Eva Lewis-Grip of think-tank Realitas, the author of the scheme, said: “The problem with the one policy at a time approach is that it puts all your eggs in one basket. Typically what happens is that government comes up with a policy and then has to wait years to see if it works. In most cases it’s barely under way before a new government comes in and changes everything. But in a pluralist system you can implement a whole series of competing policies at the same time and let the market decide which is best.”   

Experts agree that having a single direction for each major policy area artificially constrains commissioners and providers of NHS services. “Whether you’re talking about broad policy objectives or regulatory detail, the one-size-fits-all model only ever works for some people some of the time. Why not give organisations a choice?” said Lewis-Grip.

Multiple government policies would also have political benefits. By trying to resolve competing aims governments inevitably end up contradicting themselves and disappointing large numbers of voters. 

“We know that some people don’t like the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Not liking things is unacceptable in a democratic society, so what we propose is that in future we could have two or more health and social care acts and people could choose the one that suits them,” a government spokesman said.

Multiple policies would also allow ministers to duck difficult questions, avoid conflicts between conviction politics and populism and render u-turns unnecessary, making it possible for even the most inept government to cling to power for years.

Private sector leaders are firmly behind the new plans. 

Said one: “For too long a handful of big unscrupulous organisations curried favour behind closed doors in the corridors of power. Now there will be a much more level playing field for unscrupulous organisations of all kinds.” 

City editor: Julian Patterson


phil.lucas@live.co.uk says:
Nov 23, 2012 02:07 AM
I'm loving it, as we say in the world of big business. When can I buy shares?
neil2336@gmail.com says:
Nov 23, 2012 05:47 AM
Might I suggest rather than call the new organisation being named MyHealthAgenda Plc it should be called McKinsey Plc which would in my opinion accurately inform who is really deciding NHS atrategy.
nicholsong says:
Nov 23, 2012 07:40 AM
Is speaking Lansley out of date or is "Let the market decide" now Lamb speak. I wil resist the temptation to comment about talking turkey or beefing it up or that the DoH maybe chicken.
Can someone do something like this about Pathology tendering exercise? Now that is a complete farce!
laurie.beed@btopenworld.com says:
Nov 23, 2012 08:30 AM
This is the most depressing information to receive to date. Commercial interests will inevitably be put before public interests and service.
dermott.reilly@nanolandglobal.com says:
Nov 23, 2012 08:36 AM
There are thousands of great new technologies awaiting introduction into healthcare that will sit and gather dust unless we look with fresh eyes on change, technology and opportunity without fear of revenue loss, established practice and rigid routine. However, that is not to say that big business are any better at exploiting technology and innovation. Removing the bottlenecks in decision making should help however.
lance.jones@rjah.nhs.uk says:
Nov 23, 2012 08:55 AM
Rather than pool out all services to private comapanies there has to be a overall of what exactly can be managed in-house, for example Orthotic devices, prices for the same device can range dramatically throughout the country many of these devices need to be custom made there needs to be an increase of this service so that manufactuering is actually made within the NHS.
robert.rowell@nhsemployers.org says:
Nov 23, 2012 09:06 AM
This tongue in cheek article must be too close to the truth, because the subtle 'humour?' has gone straight over the heads of half of the posters so far!
Will have to revert to laying the sarcasm on thick to please the masses!
harry.longman@gmail.com says:
Nov 23, 2012 09:07 AM
This is BRILLIANT and is exactly what we who love evidence based policy should be shouting from the rooftops. Competing policies, see what works? Bring it on, and stop the mad rush down untested multi £bn policy dead ends.
Julian for SoS.
robinr says:
Nov 23, 2012 09:13 AM
Great to see the practical implications realised of Prof Schroedinger's call for public policy plurality, but which, whatever you do, the cat ends up dead.
robin.cameron@nhs.net says:
Nov 23, 2012 09:24 AM
I thought that's what we've always had. It's felt like it.
markj_1 says:
Nov 23, 2012 09:30 AM
But surely we need to have a an alternative to the Private Sector - why is there only one Market place? Maybe we could offer an alternative for people to bid in another currency or medium - say, QUALYS or Happiness, or even some new concept such as WellBing: and I certainly don't think that we should allow the Government to select its advice from only a single (willing but not necessarily qualified) provider such as RealitAss? But maybe I could also opt to live in another competing universe?
daryl.mullen@nhs.net says:
Nov 23, 2012 09:33 AM
Nice article but remember all DoH Press Releases have a mandatory GP Bashing section
mjthompson says:
Nov 23, 2012 11:34 AM
I feel embarassed to ask, but have been asked so many times whether this is true or not, I am doubting myself whether this biting bit of satire can really be true. Sorry Julian, is it?
jpatterson says:
Nov 23, 2012 12:51 PM
Hi Mark - Depends on your definition of true. But to be clear, it is not factual. Our beloved DH is safe. For now.
mjthompson says:
Nov 23, 2012 02:31 PM
Hi Julian
Thanks for quick reply. I have subsequently heard from "sources" that the government have wondered why civil servants have a monopoly on giving advice on policy, when it could be done by consultants and think tanks. So watch this space I guess. Thanks again.
aitken.petri@btinternet.com says:
Nov 26, 2012 11:12 AM
I am new to this site and may not yet have grapsed what is true and what is makebelieve. Am I right in assuming that "Prof. Eva Lewis-Grip" is either a pseudonym for a real person or just a name. If the latter, then "Prof. Paula Notha-Legge" might be more appropriate.
As you know, as far as emergency medicine is concerned, "A" & "E" stands for two parts of human anatomy, and clearly "Health Ministers" and their "advisors" don't know either. Maybe we should ask them to consult Getagrip.com for advice.
jpatterson says:
Nov 26, 2012 02:09 PM
You are right: Lewis-Grip is not a real professor any more than the DH is a real Plc.
I will be in touch with Prof Notha-Legge for learned contributions to future blogs. Just remind me, is "A" the pointy thing in the middle of my arm? I always get that wrong.
Thanks for contributing.
aitken.petri@btinternet.com says:
Nov 26, 2012 03:29 PM
No. The pointy thing in the middle of your arm is the Elbow! The "A" is near where most political hot air emerges.
jpatterson says:
Nov 26, 2012 08:30 PM
Thanks for clearing that up, Mark.
email.julie@virgin.net says:
Nov 28, 2012 09:31 AM
If this results in de-politicising NHS policy then it has to be a good thing. I would like to know how many billions of public pounds have been sunk into new short lived initiatives that are purely politically driven and un-tested.
My concerns, however, include lack of co-ordination and national drive, the 'creeping privatisation of the NHS agenda' and the potential for exploitation by powerful businesses who may not be patient-centred. Great care needed