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Eversheds comment: Improved guidance in UK hospital mergers urgently needed

  • United Kingdom

    17-10-2013

    An announcement today opens the prospect for more UK public hospital mergers. In response to a joint statement from the Office of Fair Trading, the Competition Commission and Monitor, Stephen Rose, partner and expert in competition law at global law firm Eversheds, comments:

    “The timing of the joint statement from the Office of Fair Trading, the Competition Commission and Monitor is designed to draw fire from today’s announcement of the prohibition of Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch hospital and Poole Hospital after nearly two years’ review. The joint statement promises an expanded role for Monitor and improved guidance. Both are urgently needed.

    “In mergers of neighbouring NHS hospitals, the outcome will often turn on the defences of countervailing customer benefits and so called “failing firm”. These defences are rarely pleaded successfully because the evidential bar for each is set high. The Statement rightly highlights the need for hospitals to develop the case and supporting evidence upfront but the competition agencies also need to consider rethinking their approach to allow suitable cases to be approved at first phase.”

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