There appeared to be four new changes to policy with the appearance of andrew Lansley at the Health Select Committee
Any Qualified Provider
This is not a new policy, just a change of name. Rather than referring to Any Willing Provider Lansley kept referring to Any Qualified Provider. Of course, AWP only used qualified providers anyway (the providers had to be licenced with CQC) but the new name indicates a shift away from the appearance of there being a free-for-all, Wild West-style, of provision, to a more careful, thought out collection of careful quality providers. The new name will not mean any change in the providers who will be commissioned, and it does appear to be an attempt to reassure, I wonder who were the target of this reassurance?
Patient Participation Groups
This was mentioned by Dame Barbara Haskins (National Managing Director of Commissioning Development at the Department of Health) with respect to the GP commissioning consortia. No details were given and she did not say how they would interact with the Health and Well Being Boards and the HealthWatch groups, or whether these groups would be any different to LINks, but she gave the impression that there would be "patient participation groups" attached to GP commissioning boards. This is an interesting development. My local PCT has an "Active Members Group" that, as far as I can tell, seems very inactive, so perhaps this is a new name for them?
Andrew Lansley did specifically say that "wherever the NHS pound goes there will be scrutiny" by the Health and Well Being Boards, in contrast to the current situation where current private providers are not scrutinised. This appears to be a new policy, although later in the select committee when he was pushed on "commercial confidentiality" he did not offer any concessions.Again, perhaps the former reference to scrutiny was reassurances, but to whom was not quite clear.
At one point, Sir Bruce Keogh (NHS Medical Director at the Department of Health) pointed out that: "we're not talking GP commissioning, we're talking about clinical commissioning", which seems to indicate a change in the current policy. There has been a fair bit of criticism since the publication of the white paper that there wasn't a mandatory inclusion of GPs or other clinicians (nurses, midwives, dentists, pharmacists etc) on commissioning boards. This even resulted recently in a Labour amendment to the Bill. So this change was interesting.
For most of the Select Committee, Andrew Lansley seemed quite subdued, and only a couple of times got a bit tetchy (when Andrew George mentioned "competitive tendering" and to a couple of questions from Valerie Vaz). This was quite a changed from the usual bullish Lansley we are used to.
So, perhaps the Lib Dem Spring conference and the BMA SRM have had some effect...