HCA responds to competition watchdog's calls to sell off hospitals

Private healthcare provider HCA International has responded to this morning’s report from the Competition Commission concluding that the UK's private healthcare sector is suffering from too little competition, saying it is “disappointed that the quality of clinical care and investment in innovation seems to have been ignored”.

The Commission identified 101 hospitals facing little local competition, with some of those in clusters under the common ownership of major hospital groups like BMI, Spire and HCA. One potential solution it identified could be to force operators to sell hospitals in these “cluster” areas.

HCA said today:

HCA International will engage robustly with the Competition Commission (CC) as it considers the next stage of this review. London has witnessed a strong record of new entry and expansion of private health providers in recent years, demonstrating that barriers to entry are low. The CC has a legal duty to ensure that any remedy is both proportionate and effective; it is difficult to understand how a remedy that would force HCA to divest hospitals in London could be justified on these grounds.

HCA has invested 102% of profits over the past five years in new technology and complex care. We feel strongly that the Commission has not given sufficient weight to the tangible benefits this has delivered to our patients.

We are glad that the CC has recognised the progress the private healthcare industry has made on quality and price transparency and HCA has played a leading role in this. We welcome the remedy to improve information transparency. We would like to see greater clarity regarding relationships with consultants.