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Competition and cooperation are the two fundamental mechanisms of service procurement in the NHS and represent the tools for ‘getting things done’. This chapter presents empirical findings from a longitudinal, qualitative case study research project into the use of competition and cooperation by local NHS commissioners following the HSCA 2012.
As outlined in Chapter 2, the economics of markets (and their opposite, hierarchies) in conjunction with more sophisticated theories of cooperation underpin the analysis of competition and cooperation in the NHS quasi-market. For a market to operate competitively, there needs to be sufficient numbers of buyers and sellers of goods and services. A key assumption is that purchasers have sufficient information about the goods or services to make rational choices and maximise their utility. The market will produce value for money by allocating resources to the best use at the most efficient price (Allen, 2013).
Competition in the NHS is realised through several models. Competition for the market is a result of tendering processes whereby different providers compete to deliver a particular service and one provider wins the whole market. Competition within the market exists when a number of providers are accredited to provide a particular service and they compete to attract patients. An example of the competition for the market is tendering out of community health services, and an example of competition within the market is the patient choice of elective secondary or community-based care.
In order to analyse cooperation the theory of ‘co-opetition’ and the work of Elinor Ostrom (2005) are utilised. Co-opetition suggests that organisations can compete and cooperate simultaneously to mutual benefit (Brandenburger and Nalebuff, 1996). Ostrom suggests that individuals can self-organise to solve collective problems, without direct control by the government, and can establish and enforce rules limiting the appropriation of common pool resources.
In terms of defining cooperation, there are a number of closely related terms such as collaboration, coordination, integrated care, networking and partnership. Integrated care implies the coordination of separate but interconnected components which should function together to perform a shared task (Kodner and Spreeuwenberg, 2002).
Since 1990, market mechanisms have occurred in the predominantly hierarchical National Health Service (NHS). The Health and Social Care Act 2012 led to concerns that market principles had been irrevocably embedded in the NHS and that the regulators would acquire unwarranted power compared with politicians (known as ‘juridification’). To assess this concern, we analysed regulatory activity in the period from 2015 to 2018. We explored how economic regulation of the NHS had changed in light of the policy turn back to hierarchy in 2014 and the changes in the legislative framework under Public Contracts Regulations 2015. We found the continuing dominance of hierarchical modes of control was reflected in the relative dominance and behaviour of the sector economic regulator. But there had also been a limited degree of juridification involving the courts. Generally, the regulatory decisions were consistent with the 2014 policy shift away from market principles and with the enduring role of hierarchy in the NHS, but the existing legislative regime did allow the incursion of pro market regulatory decision making, and instances of such decisions were identified.
This article examines the impact of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 on the regulation of competition in the English National Health Service (NHS), by focussing on the change it marked from a system of sector-specific regulation to one which is clearly based in competition law. It has been suggested that the Act and its associated reforms would significantly alter accountability in the NHS, and would change decisions from the remit of public policy to that of the law. To assess the impact the Act has had in practice, the article compares the interpretation of the rules regarding competition in the NHS by the regulators of competition immediately before, and following, the passing of the Act. It argues that, whilst the reforms have the potential significantly to alter the way competition in the NHS is regulated, the impact of the reforms in this area is limited by the development of systems within the NHS to manage and resolve issues internally where possible.
The issue of reconciling ethnic diversity with the welfare state is a subject of long-standing theoretical debate. In particular, it remains unclear to what extent a shared national identity is necessary for endorsing claims to welfare at the individual and societal levels. Surveys show that migrants are seen as the least deserving category of welfare recipients. Yet migrants’ own views are rarely considered. Based on a qualitative study, this paper explores how Polish migrants residing in London conceptualised their deservingness to British welfare benefits and social housing. It finds a strong preference for conditionality of welfare predicated on contributions through work, payment of taxes and law abidance. Such conditionality applied to both in-group and out-group members thus transcending identity-based claims. These contributions were seen as both necessary and sufficient for laying claims to the British welfare system. Solely needs-based claims were seen as problematic.
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