Press release

Better information for private patients moves closer

Better information for private patients on healthcare performance and fees has moved a step closer after the CMA appointed the organisation to provide it.

Stethoscope

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has approved arrangements proposed by the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) to establish an organisation which will make private healthcare information available via an independent public website.

In its report on the private healthcare market published earlier this year, the CMA found that there was a lack of publicly available information on healthcare performance and fees and that this adversely affected competition in the market.

The CMA has therefore required private healthcare operators and consultants to provide up-to-date information on their performance and fees to an independent information organisation (IO), which will produce a public website of useful healthcare information and an industry portal of healthcare information.

The proposals submitted by PHIN for establishing such an IO have now been approved by the CMA. PHIN is already responsible for managing a website which publishes information on hospitals and consultants, and it will now develop this website to provide the required additional information within the timescale set out in the CMA’s order, which was made on 1 October 2014. It is expected that the information available will become increasingly comprehensive ahead of the requirement for the website and portal to be loaded with all the necessary data and fully operational by 2017.

The information that will be made available through PHIN includes mortality rates, infection rates, the number of patients readmitted to hospital following surgery, the number of patients transferred to an NHS hospital from a private hospital, as well as measures of patient satisfaction and measures of improvement in healthcare outcomes following treatment.

The CMA’s requirement on publication of consultant fees is currently being challenged in the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) (see notes to editors). If the CMA’s decision is upheld then the requirement can be included in the existing timetable and in the meantime consultants will be free to make such information available voluntarily.

Roger Witcomb, who chaired the private healthcare investigation group, said:

This will be the most wide-ranging and significant change to result from our investigation into this market. Patients will be able to access the information they need on performance and fees to make informed choices on where to have treatment and we’re pleased to appoint PHIN to carry out this role.

At present, the information available to private patients lags behind that available in the NHS. Publicly accessible information will make it easier to compare providers and consultants, which will increase competition on costs and performance to the benefit of these paying patients.

Having appointed PHIN, we will now look to it to make good progress and expect hospitals and consultants will co-operate fully with the requirement to supply the relevant information. Indeed we expect many of these parties will see the benefit in demonstrating to patients that they are happy to be transparent and open about such information.

Notes for editors

  1. The CMA is the UK’s primary competition and consumer authority. It is an independent non-ministerial government department with responsibility for carrying out investigations into mergers, markets and the regulated industries and enforcing competition and consumer law. From 1 April 2014 it took over the functions of the Competition Commission and the competition and certain consumer functions of the Office of Fair Trading under the Enterprise Act 2002, as amended by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013.
  2. Some of the findings and decisions contained in the private healthcare final report have been appealed to the CAT. The hearing for these is scheduled to take place on 19 January 2015. A separate hearing to consider relevant matters ahead of that will be held on 15 December 2014.
  3. The CMA’s final report on the private healthcare market was published in April 2014. The CMA decided that lack of publicly available information as to performance measures of private healthcare facilities, and performance measures and fees of consultants providing privately-funded healthcare services, were two of the features of the market that gives rise to an adverse effect on competition (AEC).
  4. To remedy this AEC, operators providing inpatient and day-case services will be required to provide patient episode data, and consultants will be required to submit and maintain up-to-date information on their fees, to an independent IO. The IO will be responsible for making this information accessible to the public.
  5. The CMA published its Private Healthcare Market Investigation Order 2014 on 1 October, together with a notice of its intention to commence discussions over arrangements for establishing an organisation to perform the role of IO, which invited interested parties to make representations.
  6. On 17 October the CMA published a request for expressions of interest which asked interested parties for information as to their:
    • proposed arrangements for the establishment and governance of the information organisation
    • proposed arrangements for carrying out the duties of the information organisation in part 4 of the order
    • proposed arrangements for the membership, funding and expenditure of the information organisation
  7. Two organisations were invited to explain their proposals more fully in a meeting with the CMA.
  8. The CMA has now formally approved the proposals made by the PHIN as regards the establishment and governance of the IO and arrangements for carrying out the duties of the information organisation under part 4 of the order.
  9. For more information see the CMA’s homepage, or follow us on Twitter @CMAgovuk, Flickr and LinkedIn. Sign up to our email alerts to receive updates on markets cases.
  10. Enquiries should be directed to Kasia Reardon on 020 3738 6901, Rory Taylor on 020 3738 6798 or Simon Belgard on 020 3738 6460.
Published 1 December 2014