Up to 20 private hospitals in the UK may have to be sold to increase competition

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 30 August 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f5347
  1. Matthew Limb
  1. 1London

Many patients pay too much for private health treatment because of the “market power” exercised by big hospital groups, a major investigation by the Competition Commission has found.1

The commission’s inquiry into private healthcare found that 101 private hospitals faced little competition, with local markets dominated by the largest groups, BMI, HCA, and Spire. It said that insurers had little choice but to use their local operator, leading to higher premiums and excess profits for hospital groups.

The commission recommended that up to 20 private hospitals in 11 UK locations should be sold off to other operators to widen competition.

The inquiry found a range of anti-competitive restrictions and called for private hospitals to stop offering cash or other incentives to consultants to refer patients to their hospitals …

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