As part of its review of the private healthcare market, the Competition Commission has stated that it intends to crack down on schemes whereby doctors who refer private patients to particular hospitals are rewarded with either cash or shares. In private healthcare, doctors act as free agents who are not tied to a particular hospital but are paid to carry out hospital procedures. The Commission proposed that they should choose a suitable hospital for their patients purely “on the basis of the quality and price” of the services offered, rather that “the value of inducements paid to clinicians to encourage referrals.
Pete from PSI: The findings are particularly problematic for mutuals such as Circle Healthcare, the employee mutual 49.9% owned by employees and consultants, who have in the past required doctors to sign commitments that they will refer up to 60 per cent of their private patients to Circle hospitals. Ironically, Circle was among the original plaintiffs that first encouraged this investigation.