Committee (5th Day)

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 14th November 2011.

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Photo of Lord Greaves Lord Greaves Liberal Democrat 7:15 pm, 14th November 2011

It is our view that the original proposals were not working at all, and the proposals that we have now are better than the original ones. That does not mean to say that they are perfect, and it is the job of the House of Lords to check that the imperfections in them are removed before the Bill leaves your Lordships' House.

The point that I was trying to make, which I will finally make once more, is that there is a real difference between the two meanings of "commissioning". If you are a GP, you can commission services from an existing, static landscape or system of provision for your patients. However, commissioning services on a wider scale, commissioning the very landscape of services and the series of organisations that exist, whether it is deciding to put more money overall on a wide scale into one area of medicine and pulling back on others or just keeping the others going as they are, or whether it is financing capital projects-where to build new hospitals, new health centres or whatever it is-is very different indeed. You need bodies on a larger scale to do that. The idea that practices on their own or small groups of practices could commission that kind of undertaking on a wider scale is nonsense. You cannot rely on the market to provide them all because that will produce chaos and a lack of provision in many areas. That is why the original proposal for GP commissioning groups, which were to be quite small, simply would not have delivered at that level. The original proposals did not indicate in any way how that wider capital commissioning would take place.