CBI director-general enters fray on NHS contracts

Mathew Little

CBI director-general Sir Digby Jones has joined the debate over voluntary sector funding by writing to health secretary Patricia Hewitt about poor procurement practices.

The letter, seen by Third Sector, said that a short-term approach to contracting services from the voluntary sector was undermining patient care.

Jones said that his views coincided with those of Acevo chief executive Stephen Bubb about the poor quality of NHS contracting with charities.

He claimed that the current situation "increases risk transfer and has a detrimental impact on the quality of healthcare being provided to patients".

Last year, the CBI formed Future Services, a joint initiative with the NCVO and the National Consumer Council, to encourage debate about public service reform. It is understood that the CBI feels it has common ground with voluntary organisations over efforts to improve public sector procurement.

The Jones letter took up the case of Marie Curie Cancer Care. It said that one-year contracts meant the charity was reliant on agency staff "with negative implications for the value for money it can deliver".

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