OFT’s first review of NHS Foundation Trust merger

The Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) review of a merger between two NHS Foundation Trusts is the first of its kind following the enactment of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and heralds a new focus on competition in the public healthcare sector.

On 22 October 2012, the OFT announced that it had commenced its review of a proposed merger between Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. On 8 January 2013, the OFT decided to refer the case to the Competition Commission (CC) for an in-depth merger investigation.

When considering merger and acquisition opportunities, NHS Foundation Trusts must take into account the potential impact on choice for both patients and NHS commissioners and how the incentives to compete on quality may be adversely affected. The case emphasises the need for NHS Trusts also to be fully aware of the scope of competition law and consider carefully the risks and implications of falling under its spotlight…

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