Hospitals could be forced to offer treatments at the same price as more “efficient” competitors under plans outlined by the Conservatives.
Charities and private companies would be encouraged to compete with hospitals for NHS patients under a Tory government, according to shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley.
This would drive down costs and ensure only efficient hospitals provided care.
Writing in Policy Review Magazine, Mr Lansley said there was a great challenge to deliver equity, efficiency and excellence in the NHS “at a time of crisis in our public finances”.
He said: “We will drive efficiency by opening up the NHS to allow charities and private organisations to compete to provide NHS services if they meet the necessary high quality standards.
“By increasing the number of organisations providing care for patients, we will drive down costs and ensure NHS care is provided by only the most efficient and effective organisations.
“We will also move to a system where no hospital can expect to be paid more to treat patients than it costs efficient hospitals, providing powerful incentives for all organisations to save money.”
GPs would also be given responsibility to manage the costs of their patient’s care.
“With part of GPs’ pay dependent upon the results of their patient’s treatment, they will have a direct incentive to buy the most efficient services on behalf of their patients, because they will be able to keep any savings and use them to reinvest in their patient’s care.”