The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) announced in December that it is carrying out a study into commissioning and competition in the provision of public services including health services.

The purpose of the study is to enable the OFT to formulate and provide guidance to those involved in public sector commissioning by identifying best practice procurement. The OFT has said that “by collecting evidence on the impact of specific purchasing practices, our aim is to help policymakers and procurers preserve and promote competition in public services markets”.

The OFT will be looking at procurement across the public sector including health, education, welfare and justice. The study will also explore the role of payment by results, the role of small and medium sized enterprises and the third sector, and delivery through the mutual model. Comparisons will be made with the role of competition in private sector commissioning and the study will also encompass an international view.

Although the OFT will be contacting certain entities directly, it invites interested parties to make appropriate submissions. Further information from the OFT can be found here and here.