Making more NHS mergers more successful

NHS merger activity has increased markedly in the past 12 months. The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) has just cleared major transactions in Manchester and Birmingham, and further NHS mergers are planned in Essex, Gloucestershire, Dorset, and elsewhere. Everyone in the NHS knows that while mergers can provide opportunities for significant service improvements, they also…

Joint bidding as a competition issue

Late last month the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) published an open letter to public sector procurement officials with advice on how to spot bid rigging. Bid rigging is rightfully regarded as a very serious offence. When bidders collude to share contracts and/or make purchasers pay more, their behaviour is little more than theft. The CMA’s advice…

Brexit and NHS competition and procurement rules

Brexit’s impact on the regulation of NHS procurement and competition, as foreshadowed in HSJ last Friday, is likely to be limited. At the risk of unnecessarily adding to the volume of Brexit-related discussions, this blog post looks in further detail at the likely impact on procurement, merger control, state aid and prohibitions on anticompetitive behaviour in…

How much does competition influence Acute Trust behaviour?

Merger analysis is about assessing how much competition will be lost if two organisations merge, and deciding whether this matters. My last blog talked about how GP referral analysis could be used to answer this question for NHS hospital mergers. Analysing NHS hospital mergers, however, is different to most non-NHS mergers because deciding whether a…

Agency price caps: one year on

Almost a year has passed since the Government’s plans for agency price caps were first reported. At the time, I asked whether staffing agencies were really ripping off the NHS, and whether capping agency rates was likely to save the NHS money. Christopher Cook, from BBC Newsnight, asked similar questions as did others. NHS Improvement, however, has now said that…