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Thursday 27th October 2016

Healthcare market to be investigated

5th April 2012

Calls have been made for an investigation into the private healthcare market in the UK, which is worth £5.5bn.


The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has asked the Competition Commission to launch an inquiry – which could take two years - following a public consultation earlier this year after which it said it suspected competition was being restricted.

The OFT holds the view “that the private healthcare market could work better for patients.”

Among the concerns raised by the OFT are: a lack of information about the pricing and quality of services that would enable patients to compare healthcare providers; the small number of healthcare providers and insurers nationally, which limits choice and competition; and practices that make it harder for new competitors to break into the market, such as loyalty payments to consultants.

The Competition Commission can make companies change business practices if it feels they are harmful to market competition.

David Mobbs, chief executive of the not-for-profit provider Nuffield, said: “Patients need to have choice so they can be reassured they are getting access to the most appropriate care.

“This can only be achieved if the industry commits itself to providing transparent information about treatment options, quality and associated costs.”

He welcomed the investigation as a “golden opportunity to get rid of some of the practices which have beleaguered the industry for years.”

Dr Natalie-Jane Macdonald, managing director of Bupa, said the cost of private healthcare had been rising to unsustainable levels for too long because of a lack of competition and efficiency in the private hospital market.


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