On August 5th, 2015 the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced a rare formal action against medical professionals in the UK. The CMA has found the Consultant Eye Surgeons Partnership (CESP) responsible for creating anti-competitive pricing agreements across their extensive network of surgeons and medical partnerships.
The lucrative wrongdoings that CESP has been fined for include creating and distributing stringent price lists to their members across the UK, detailing out how much should be charged for a variety of eye procedures. CESP has also admitted to advising its members to refuse any proposals for a fee decrease by the insurance companies as well as devising a platform where future business intentions were shared between consultants, therefore allowing the members to align their responses accordingly. One of the implications for these actions include making it harder for insurers and patients to obtain lower prices for necessary medical treatments.
It is believed that this action is a step towards the CMA having a more watchful eye upon trade associations. The CMA wants this case to act as a wake up call for other trade associations “to take steps to ensure they operate in a way that does not infringe competition law”. The initial fine was £500,000, however the penalty was reduced to £382,500 due to CESP’s cooperation in a adopting a competition law compliance programme.