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Private healthcare faces competition shake up

29 August 2013
The Competition Commission’s provisional findings following its investigation into the private healthcare market has identified a number of areas where the market is working to the financial detriment of consumers and is now consulting on a number of possible remedies that may help to deal with the problems identified.

One of the key headlines is the possibility of hospital operators being forced to sell some of their hospitals which face weak competition in their local markets. However, the Commission recognises this will not address weak competition in areas where there are only one or two operators. For this and other reasons, the Commission is consulting on a number of possible remedies designed to regulate hospital operators' conduct including pricing controls as well as restrictions on expansion and patient referral incentives.

With the NHS facing considerable pressure on its resources and at best static demand for private healthcare, this inquiry will continue to receive a lot of attention. But don't expect any quick answers - the final report is not due until April 2014.

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