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NMa clears merger between Scheper-Bethesda hospitals and Hospital Refaja

The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) has cleared the merger between Foundation Scheper-Bethesda hospital, part of the Leveste Middenveld care group and Foundation Christian Hospital Refaja in the northern Dutch province Groningen. The NMa has established that the planned concentration will have no major negative effects on competition. There will be enough other hospitals where patients can go to if they are not satisfied with the hospital care of Scheper-Bethesda hospital and Hospital Refaja.

In its investigation into the planned concentration’s effects, the NMa looked at, among other aspects, journey times and patient flows, and it consulted with competitor hospitals and the largest insurers in the region. Its findings revealed that, after the merger, there would be enough hospitals that could exert competitive pressure on the merger partners. The Scheper-Bethesda hospital offers general hospital care and specialist care in the province of Drenthe in particular, as well as in the province of Overijssel. The Refaja Hospital offers general hospital care in the province of Groningen in particular, but also in the province of Drenthe. As usual, the NMa included the Dutch Healthcare Authority’s opinion in its investigation. The merger decision (in Dutch) will be published on the NMa’s website

On January 1, 2013, the NMa will merge with the Netherlands Consumer Authority and the Independent Post and Telecommunications Authority of the Netherlands (OPTA), creating a new authority: The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM). This new authority aims to ensure that markets work in order to protect consumer interests. To this end, the ACM will focus on three main themes: consumer protection, industry-specific regulation, and competition oversight.