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To ask the Secretary of State for Health
(1) if he will assess the likely effects of including private healthcare companies in the commissioning process in the light of international experience;
(2) what mechanisms he plans to put in place to prevent private healthcare companies participating in the commissioning process solely for the purpose of profiteering.
External private organisations are currently widely used by primary care trusts to support the commissioning process. There is evidence that in many cases external organisations have succeeded in improving commissioning processes and can provide support in key areas such as data analysis and commercial skills.
General practitioner consortia will receive a maximum management allowance to reflect the costs associated with commissioning. They will have the freedom to decide what commissioning activities they undertake for themselves, and for what activities they choose to buy in support from external organisations, including local authorities, private and voluntary sector bodies.
The Department does not intend to monitor how consortia spend their management allowance, as consortia will have the freedom to use their resources in ways that achieve the best and most cost-efficient outcomes for patients. Consortia will, however, need to take account of value for money when contracting with external organisations.