Private Providers (Integrated Care Boards) in the Health and Care Bill

I welcome the intention, through the Health and Care Bill, to develop more integrated care between the NHS, local government, social care providers and other partners to deliver better integration of health and care services on the ground. The reforms proposed in the Health and Care Bill will continue to improve the quality and sustainability of NHS services and outcomes for patients.

Service provision by the independent and voluntary sectors has been, and continues to be, an important and valuable feature of our healthcare system, which I fully support. ICBs are NHS bodies guided by the NHS Constitution and with the values of the NHS at heart. Safeguards are already in place to ensure that the interests of the public and the NHS are always put first. The ICB chair would have the power to veto members of the board and there are robust requirements on ICBs to manage conflicts of interests.

That said, I do appreciate that there are concerns about private sector involvement in ICBs. It is important that people are assured that the work of ICBs will be driven by health outcomes, not by profits.

I welcome therefore that the Government has amended the Health and Care Bill, putting beyond doubt that Integrated Care Boards will not be controlled in any way by the private sector. No one that could potentially undermine the NHS due to their involvement in the private healthcare sector should sit on an ICB. The Government’s amendment, which I was pleased to support in the Commons, makes clear that no one may be appointed to an ICB who would undermine the independence of the NHS, either as a result of their interests in the private healthcare sector, or otherwise.