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NHS Long-term Plan: Prof Albert Sanchez-Graells’ evidence cited in House of Commons Committee inquiry

Press release issued: 22 August 2019

Evidence submitted by the Law School’s Professor Albert Sanchez-Graells has been extensively cited in a report published by the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee in the inquiry on legislative proposals put forward to support the implementation of the NHS long-term plan.

Professor Sanchez-Graells’ written evidence, submitted in March 2019, warned that the Government’s proposed legislation would result in significant de-regulation of the NHS, removing important checks and balances without identifying alternative regulatory frameworks.

The evidence discussed the difficulties raised by aspects of the proposed legislation which are currently legally inviable, such as seeking exemption from compliance with procurement law; it also highlighted that there is more flexibility in the current rules than is generally perceived, pointing out that the ‘potential advantages’ suggested by the proposals are already achievable, which challenges the need for the de-regulatory approach taken by Government. 

These points are clearly reflected in the Committee’s report responding to the proposals, which references Professor Sanchez-Graells’ evidence throughout, as well as in the final recommendations.

Under the report’s ‘Conclusions and recommendations’ section, items [2] and [7] read:

“We heard concerns that NHS England and NHS Improvement’s proposals risk deregulating, rather than de-marketising, the NHS without creating an alternative regulatory mechanism. In its response to this report, we request that the Government set out its assessment of the likelihood that the proposed legislation would have the effect of deregulating competition in the NHS and how it intends to ensure patients and taxpayers are protected from any adverse unintended consequences.” [Emphasis added.]

“Given the way the NHS in England operates, the proposal to take it out of the Public Contract Regulations 2015 may well face legal difficulties. NHS England, NHS Improvement and the Department [of Health and Social Care] need to explore that in detail and be clear about the law, including EU law. In the meantime, however, we recommend that they should explore whether there are more flexibilities within PCR 2015 than are currently being used. [Emphasis added.]

Further information

Professor Albert Sanchez GraellsProfessor of Economic Law at the University of Bristol Law School, specialises in EU economic law and, in particular, competition and public procurement law and policy. His research concentrates on the way the public sector interacts with the market and how it organises the delivery of public services, especially healthcare. He takes an economically-informed approach to his legal research and is particularly keen on the analysis of the systems of incentives and enforcement mechanisms that law creates or facilitates.

The Centre for Health, Law, and Society (CHLS) promotes cross-disciplinary and cross-sector perspectives on the impacts of law and governance on physical, mental and social wellbeing. Based within the University of Bristol Law School, the CHLS comprises leading scholars whose work focuses on wide-ranging practical areas from within and far beyond health care systems, including clinical medicine, reproductive care, mental health, social care, and public and global health.

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