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The NHS needs the right kind of competition

Dr David Bennett, Chair of Monitor, delivers the fourth annual Currie Lecture

Competition within the NHS has been a contentious topic which in healthcare circles for some time. One advocate of carefully managed competition is Dr David Bennett, Chair of Monitor the independent regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts, who delivered the fourth annual Currie Lecture at Cass this week.


Dr David Bennett, Chair of Monitor

NHS Foundation trusts represent 57% of all acute providers and almost £30 billion is currently spent on NHS services provided by Foundation Trusts. Monitor's role today is to set the standards for foundation trust status and also to ensure that the trusts comply with the terms of their authorisation.

The Health and Social Care Bill, which was introduced into Parliament on 19th January this year, proposed structural changes to the way the NHS operates while retaining its founding ideals of the NHS and inevitably framed much of Dr Bennett's talk.

"The Health and Social Care Bill is very substantial and includes some 281 clauses and 21 schedules. I am told it is the largest Bill for the NHS since 'free at the point of use' healthcare was introduced in this country," he said.

Dr Bennett later discussed competition in the NHS "as a sector regulator Monitor needs to be guided by evidence. and there is evidence to suggest that choice and the competition between providers that goes with it can be a valuable tool, alongside other levers and incentives, driving up quality, efficiency and effectiveness, and encouraging innovation."

However, he warned that "we need much more information about what works and what does not in healthcare, and so a critical and early priority for any regulator of the sector must be to undertake, or to encourage, further research. There is much more we need to know."

The Currie Lecture is named in honour of Lord Currie of Marylebone, former Dean of Cass Business School, and was inaugurated in 2008. This lecture takes as the topic of regulation as its overarching theme. Lord Currie was the inaugural chairman of Ofcom, the telecommunications regulator.

View a transcript of Dr Bennett's lecture

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