Report (5th Day)

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 6th March 2012.

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Photo of Baroness Murphy Baroness Murphy Crossbench 5:45 pm, 6th March 2012

My Lords, this is a disparate group of amendments. I support the principles that underline Amendments 164, 165 and 166. The Bill has been amended since the Committee stage and may address some issues, and that is one of the difficulties when we discuss competition, collaboration, integration and co-operation. We will have yet another amendment later today or on Thursday from the Government on the duty of co-operation that will further strengthen the role of Monitor in regard to these issues. That, I think, will meet some of the arguments.

My feelings are consonant with those of the noble Baroness, Lady Williams. I am furious at some of the debates in the press about whether we are marketeers or pro-NHS. In fact, the vast majority of people in this House steer a course in order to do what is in the best interests of patients in terms of competition, collaboration and integration. I acknowledge that many of us must feel the same as the noble Baroness in her frustration about that.

The intervention of my noble friend Lord Adebowale was helpful in that it reminded us of how competition has worked in mental health services and substance misuse services. For many years collaboration between organisations to deliver services in both acute care and for long-term conditions has been helpful. I have no difficulty thinking of dozens of situations where commissioners have decided to commission services in areas where there has been collaboration between a group of service providers. They may involve social care services, residential care homes being run independently and so on. Commissioners might seek to put together an improved ortho-geriatric service especially for people with multiple disabilities in later life. There are examples of successful collaborative services which have been competitively tendered for. However, I do not want to take up the time of the House at this stage by mentioning too many examples.

I have a question to ask of the Opposition in relation to Amendment 163BA. This is the first amendment in the group, and perhaps the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, could help me in one respect. I am not quite clear whether this amendment would return Monitor to the position it is in now-where we would continue with the two-tier system of foundation trusts and other trusts with a simple economic regulator for foundation trusts-and would rule out the rest of the new economic regulation functions. If it has that effect, it would seriously wreck the main purpose of the Bill. However, I may well be reading it incorrectly, so before I decide which way to go, I wonder whether the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, could reassure me that that is not the purpose of the amendment.