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Competition Law

Analysis - debate - current awareness

Field Fisher Waterhouse , 01 MAY 2015

Doctor, doctor!

John Cassels


Doctor, doctor!
The UK's Competition Appeal Tribunal this week upheld a ruling that specialist doctors (consultants) must publish more information about their performance and their fees.

The ruling was originally made by the Competition and Markets Authority following an investigation into the private healthcare market in the UK. The CMA looked into whether there were adverse effects on competition arising from the buyer power in the healthcare market of private medical insurers and in relation to consultants. It concluded that although in some cases the insurers had significant power to constrain consultants' fees and control consumer choices regarding which consultants to use, this did not give rise to an adverse effect on competition.

However, it found that there was an adverse effect on competition arising from the lack of independent publicly available performance and fee information on consultants. This gave rise to a distortion of competition amongst consultants by preventing patients from exercising effective choice. It also reduced competition amongst consultants on the basis of quality and price. In order to address this, the CMA made an order requiring healthcare facility operators and consultants to publish information about consultants' fees and other aspects of their practice.

The Federation of Independent Practitioner Organisations, which represents the interests of medical organisations with private practice committees and the consultants who are members of such organisations, appealed against the decision and lost.

If you are interested in accessing information with a view to making an informed choice as regards a hospital or consultant, you will be able to find it here in the very near future.

If you would like to discuss any of these issues, please do not hesitate to contact John Cassels at john.cassels@fieldfisher.com.

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