Thursday 16 January 2014 8:10 pm

Private healthcare companies told to sell off nine hospitals

TWO PRIVATE healthcare firms have been ordered to sell off nine hospitals in a bid to improve competition and cut prices, which one lawyer described as “draconian”. The Competition Commission said HCA should dispose of London Bridge and Princess Grace hospitals, while BMI has been told to sell seven sites across the country. “Requiring operators to sell hospitals is a big step and we have focused on those areas where a sale will be effective in increasing competition,” said CC chairman Rodger Witcomb. The CC released a report in August stating that many private hospitals face little competition in areas across the UK, leading to higher private medical insurance premiums and charges for private patients. Mike Neeb, head of HCA, called it a “plainly wrong” decision, adding: “The CC’s own report acknowledges there are nearly 50 competitors in Greater London, our ownership of these hospitals encourages competition and drives a higher standard of care among hospitals in the UK.” Mayer Brown’s head of competition Gillian Sproul said: “Selling off of the nine hospitals is a draconian remedy and probably the most severe the Competition Commission can impose.”