Collaboration, not competition, is key to improving joined up care and encouraging innovation in the NHS, the Health and Social Care committee has said.
In its report on the NHS Long Term Plan legislative proposals, published in June, the committee said the NHS should not become a “monopoly” as it would not be in the best interest of patients.
While choice and competition between vendors can encourage innovation, it often adds extra cost and complexities within the NHS without any proven benefit to patients, it said.
Instead, collaboration is a better way to manage rising demands on health and social care, improve joined up care for patients and deliver better value for taxpayers.
Stronger leadership is also needed to empower local leaders.
“Local areas are working hard to collaborate and integrate care around patients but too often having to do so in spite of, rather than with assistance from, current legislation which is why legislative changes are necessary to remove some of the hurdles,” the report said.
The committee also warned now is “not the time” to develop new integrated care systems as separate legal entities as there is “no appetite” to another major reorganisation of the NHS.
Dr Sarah Wollaston, MP and chair of the committee, said: “This report also represents cross-party endorsement of suggested changes, and presents an opportunity to make integration easier, to encourage greater collaboration and reduce some of the burdens from competition rules.
“Nevertheless, the proposals in their current form are NHS-centric – we would like to see greater consideration of the wider system which the NHS seeks to integrate.”
The structure of the NHS at top level has undergone significant change in recent months, with the development of NHSX to handle technology and digital and the merger of NHS England and NHS Improvement.
NHSX is expected to mandate the use of internationally-recognised tech and data standards across the NHS, including open standards to encourage interoperability.
The NHS Long Term Plan, published in January, pledged that digitally-enabled care will go ‘mainstream’ across the NHS over the next decade, and set eight milestones on the way to that goal.