According to a proposal outlined in a Department of Health consultation paper entitled Protecting and promoting patients’ interests – licensing providers of NHS services, providers of primary dental services in England will not initially be subject to licensing by regulator Monitor.
This is largely due to extensive lobbying by the British Dental Association (BDA), which argues that dentistry is already heavily regulated and that it would be inappropriate for Monitor’s licensing arrangements to extend to dentists.
However, the government has revealed that it may consider forcing GP practices to hold a licence from Monitor in the future and could be fined up to 10 per cent of a practice’s turnover if they fail to hold one or breach its terms.
Monitor will bring the licensing regime into force for NHS foundation trusts from April next year and for other providers of NHS services from April 2014. This will give Monitor power to regulate prices, address anti-competitive behaviour and promote better integration of services.
The consultation says that initially it “may” be unnecessary for Monitor to license all providers because there are alternative bodies, such as the NHS Commissioning Board, that could, using contractual levers, enforce on GPs any requirements to protect patient choice, prevent anti-competitive conduct and enable integration.
And it says: “Where Monitor could work with other bodies in the system to secure equivalent standards, particular types of provider would initially be exempt from the requirement to hold a licence. We are recommending that providers of primary medical and dental services should initially be exempt from the requirement to hold a licence.”
Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “We need to ensure that patient’s interests are protected and that the health service is doing everything it can to help them, whilst not over burdening the NHS with unnecessary bureaucracy.”
As an accountant; David Jacobs offers a range of accounting, audit and taxation advice to the legal and medical professions.