Last month NHS chief executive David Nicholson said in a letter to senior NHS staff that there was 'no question of introducing price competition'. This statement appeared to be in direct contradiction to the Health and Social Care Bill which referred to the tariff being only 'a maximum price for that service', implying that competition between providers to provides services at prices below the maximum would be allowed.
The Bill has now been amended to clarify what the Government says it always intended ie that price competition would not be introduced into the NHS.
The Department has confirmed that the coalition Government's plans have always been to enhance competition on quality not on price. It wants the tariff to be a nationally-regulated price not a starting-point for price competition. The amendments made to the Bill do not apparently reflect a change in policy they merely clarify the Department's position and intentions all along.