In late-2011, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) imposed a fine on the Dutch National Association of General Practitioners (LHV). Following an objection filed by LHV, ACM has reviewed the case extensively.
ACM continues to be of the opinion that recommendations issued by LHV led to a restriction of the options of consumers, and of those of new general practitioners (GPs). LHV advised its members to assess whether there was a need for new GPs in their areas, and whether there were enough patients to support new practices. According to LHV’s recommendations, established GPs would then ‘hire’ new GPs through interviews.
ACM believes in health care quality and in patients’ freedom to choose a GP themselves. GPs must be able to offer patients freedom of choice and high-quality health care. That is why it is important for GPs to be able to decide for themselves where and how they want to establish their practices. With such freedom, GPs are able to meet the needs of patients better, for example by offering extended opening hours or additional care services to certain categories of patients.
ACM upholds the original decision, but reduces the fine imposed on LHV from more than EUR 7.7 million to approximately EUR 5.9 million. In addition, ACM retracts the fines on two LHV officials. This decision on objection can be appealed.
In the next few years, ACM will continue to protect and promote patients’ freedom of choice in the health care market. That is why the theme of ‘Consumers in the health care market’ has been included in the 2014-2015 ACM Agenda. Join the discussion about the ACM Agenda on Denkmee.acm.nl (in Dutch).
The decision on objection can be found here (in Dutch)