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Monitor is not ‘inflexible’


6 June 2013

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Monitor has called for clinical commissioning groups and providers to speak up about innovative projects rather than assuming the regulator will act as a barrier.

Speaking at the NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool, Monitor's director of policy and strategy, Toby Lambert gave the example of care trusts being awarded foundation trust status as proof that Monitor is not inflexible.

Monitor has called for clinical commissioning groups and providers to speak up about innovative projects rather than assuming the regulator will act as a barrier.

Speaking at the NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool, Monitor's director of policy and strategy, Toby Lambert gave the example of care trusts being awarded foundation trust status as proof that Monitor is not inflexible.

"The NHS strategy must respond the pressure for operational improvement. If there is a perceived blockage that Monitor won't allow something, come speak to us. In the majority of cases no one ever asked us."

When challenged about the Office of Fair Trading's (OFT) intervention in the merger between Bournemouth and Poole Hospitals he said that one of the lessons learned is that the OFT needs to understand healthcare better and that the trusts involved need to articulate why the move would benefit patients.

Tracy Connell, managing director of East Coast Community Healthcare, an independent social enterprise, challenged Monitor to look at market development rather than impose prohibitive fees for smaller providers such as her company.

 Lambert reassured her that the would be no licence fee as "we would have to consult on it and the secretary of state would vito it" and that they would be doing work on getting the procurement process better understood.

He was also challenged about working with the Care Quality Commission. "Our relationship is extremely close. I expect that is not immediately obvious to those foundation trusts that do not get into difficulty. We speak on a daily basis at an operational level," he said.

Lambert spoke about pricing saying it should be aligned to a vision of the NHS in 10 years but admitted that "We don't know what that system will look like. We don't have a clear view of what works."

Lambert said the current aim is to spot what works and incentivise it through the pricing system.

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