Care homes: what next from the CMA?

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is currently conducting a market study into care and nursing homes for the elderly. It is considering how well (or otherwise) the market is working, including whether care home providers are treating residents and their representatives fairly. The study was launched in December 2016 and the next published stage will be the CMA’s interim report in June. Under statutory rules, a final report must be published by December this year. That report will contain the CMA’s findings to date and likely way forward. It is possible the CMA will decide to go ahead with a market investigation reference, an in-depth investigation which could result in compulsory behavioural or structural changes in the sector. The CMA could also uncover specific breaches of consumer protection or competition law as a result of information received during the study and pursue individual enforcement actions. It’s an open field at the moment.

Health & Social Care

This is the second time the UK competition authorities have formally considered the care homes market. The CMA’s predecessor, the OFT, reported back in 2005 and its recommendations resulted in some positive improvements. It continued to keep a watching brief on developments in the sector. The OFT and, now, the CMA have had varying success in tackling deficiencies in the operation of publicly funded healthcare. From a review of activity of the past year or so, the CMA might have more success ironing out health and social care markets either outside or on the periphery of NHS services. As part of its merger control remit for example, the CMA is currently considering mergers in foster care and adult rehabilitation services. Quite a change from its more usual focus on commercial markets.

Our cross-disciplinary team of health and social care lawyers is following these developments with interest. In the meantime, please do get in touch if you would like to discuss this or any other health and social care matters.

This information is necessarily of a general nature and doesn’t constitute legal advice. This is not a substitute for formal legal advice, given in the context of full information under an engagement with Bates Wells.

All content on this page is correct as of May 10, 2017.