Australia’s largest private hospital operator in court for alleged anti-competitive conduct

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has commenced a Federal Court action against Ramsay Health Care (Ramsay Health) for allegedly breaching the anti-competitive provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act (CCA).

Ramsay Health is Australia’s largest private hospital operator, with substantial market power in the private health industry. It runs the only private hospital and day surgery facilities in the Coffs Harbour region.

Ramsay Health executives are said to have threatened to restrict or provide access to its operating theatres in Coffs Harbour to surgeons if they established a competing surgical facility in Coffs Harbour.

Under the CCA, businesses with substantial market power like Ramsay Health are prohibited from taking advantage of that power for illegal purposes when dealing with customers, suppliers and competitors.

ACCC alleges that Ramsay Health, by seeking to deter surgeons to start a competing surgical facility, has misused its market power and engaged in anti-competitive conduct in breach of the CCA.

The competition regulator expressed concern that Ramsay Health’s conduct puts consumers at disadvantage because there will be no competitive price for surgeries if businesses are deterred from entering the market.

Businesses with substantial market power must not engage in conduct that causes damage to other businesses, or deters either entry to the market or competition.

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Source: ACCC