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Gov urged to rethink competition plans

Gov urged to rethink competition plans

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The coalition government has been warned against "putting too much faith" in competition as a driver of change in the NHS by the King's Fund.

Researchers are urging the government to be mindful of the different context their health reforms plans will be played out in when compared to that of New Labour's "fledgling" market reforms.

They argue increased funding and activity levels mitigated the effects of greater competition on NHS Trusts when Labour reforms were introduced.

Thanks to the current economic climate, they warn pressures of competition may be felt "much more acutely".

The researchers also argue that competition alone will be "insufficient" in meeting the challenge of an aging population.

They claim competition should be used alongside and in combination with increased integration within healthcare, and between health and social care.

"[The coalition government] would do well to learn the lessons from the experience of new Labour's market reforms," said Dr Anna Dixon, a co-Editor of a book which analysed the impact of New Labour's introduction of competition to the NHS and director of policy at the King's Fund.

"While the context and priorities may have changed- with less money in the system and an urgent need to focus on improving care for those with long term conditions- the evidence suggests the government should not put too much faith in competition as a driver of change."

While the King's Fund research found evidence that New Labour's market reforms had delivered some positive improvements to NHS services, it found the size of these effects were "small".

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