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Breakthrough on ‘NHS the preferred provider’ policy

27 September 2009 - 1:05am

After months of intensive talks the secretary of state for health in England has written to the Trades Union Congress to clarify the government's position on the NHS being the 'preferred provider' of NHS services.

A letter from health secretary Andy Burnham outlines the steps commissioners must take in future to engage with existing NHS providers, their staff and trade union representatives before considering whether to put services out to open tender. The emphasis is on co-operation between commissioners and existing NHS providers and allows for agreements to be reached on NHS service changes without having to spend valuable time and money on tendering exercises.

CSP welcomes shift in policy

Lesley Mercer, CSP director of employment relations and union services, who has been involved in the talks and also sits on the TUC executive, has welcomed the shift in policy: 'The government policy of the NHS being the preferred provider has now been given clarity and teeth. It won’t solve every problem and does not take away the imperative for all physiotherapy services to be looking hard at how they currently deliver services to ensure best value. But CSP members now have a better framework for keeping NHS services where they belong: in the NHS. 'It is a testament to the benefits of partnership working, including with the TUC, that we have been able to reach this kind of agreement.'

New guidance 'a priority'

Lesley Mercer said: 'The CSP will now be working closely with other health unions through the NHS Social Partnership Forum to identify the revisions necessary to Department of Health operational guidelines, to ensure they fit with the new government policy. The priority will be to replace the commissioning document 'Necessity not Nicety', which has attracted widespread criticism, with new guidance.' See our page on Alternative providers of NHS services for more information on this issue.


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