Anti-competitive behaviour: Patient choice of hospital

Aldwych Partners advised a major private sector hospital provider in a dispute with NHS commissioners regarding patients’ ability to choose their preferred hospital. We assisted the client in formulating a competition-based complaint to the industry regulator that was subsequently upheld. As a result, patients are provided with greater information about their right to choose between hospitals for their treatment.

Aldwych Partners advised Spire Healthcare, a major private sector hospital provider, in relation to a dispute with NHS commissioners concerning patients’ ability to choose their preferred hospital for NHS-funded services.

Spire was concerned that a decline in referrals of NHS patients to its Fylde Coast hospital reflected efforts to direct patients towards the local NHS trust, despite the high quality service offered by Spire and the longer waiting times that would be experienced by patients who were referred to the NHS trust.

Carrying out an analysis of GP referral patterns and commissioner documents, we worked with Spire to draft a competition-based complaint to the industry regulator. Following a detailed investigation, the regulator found that patients were not offered a choice of provider when they were referred for a first outpatient appointment with a consultant or consultant-led team, and that the ability to make this choice was neither publicised nor promoted.

As a result, measures were implemented to ensure that patients were provided with greater information about their right to choose between hospitals for their treatment.

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