ACCC opposes hospital sale
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has opposed Healthe Care Australia Pty Ltd's proposed acquisition of Brisbane Waters Private Hospital, ACCC Chairman Mr Graeme Samuel said recently.
"The ACCC is seeking an undertaking from Healthe that it will not proceed with the acquisition", Mr Samuel said.
"The ACCC found that the proposed acquisition would be likely to substantially lessen competition in the supply of private hospital services to patients in the Gosford area.
"In particular, the ACCC's concerns relate to the potential for the quality of private hospital services to diminish.
"The ACCC's inquiries found that treating doctors play a significant role in ensuring that patients receive a high standard of care from private hospitals.
"The ACCC considers that competition currently exists between North Gosford and Brisbane Waters to attract doctors and that they can use the current competitive situation to benefit the standard of care for their patients.
"The ACCC considers that this competition will end if Healthe own both private hospitals.
"Further, the ACCC considers that the proposed acquisition is likely to result in a reduction in the range and quality of services currently offered at North Gosford and Brisbane Waters, resulting, among other things, in patients having to travel further to receive treatment.
"Following extensive market inquiries the ACCC considers that Berkeley Vale is unlikely to be a sufficient constraint on Healthe post acquisition.
"In its market inquiries, the ACCC took into consideration information provided by Healthe and many other market participants, including specialists, health funds and industry bodies.
"The ACCC subsequently published a Statement of Issues on 8 November 2006 and will publish a Public Competition Assessment detailing the reasons for the ACCC's decision in due course".
Press release, 13 Dec 2006
Lin Enright, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission