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NMa will once again further investigate merger of Zeeland hospitals

The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) intends to further investigate for a second time the proposed merger of Walcheren Hospital and the Oosterschelde Hospitals Foundation in the Dutch province of Zeeland. The two hospitals notified the NMa of their merger plans on June 28th, 2008. An initial investigation left the NMa to conclude that competition may be impeded on the market for clinical and non-clinical general hospital care. That is why the NMa decided that a license is required for this concentration to go through. If the Zeeland hospitals apply for a license, the NMa will, generally speaking, decide within 13 weeks whether the merger may or may not go ahead.

The hospitals have claimed that the merger will result in efficiency gains that outweigh any possible disadvantages the merger might pose. The NMa has concluded that this has not yet been sufficiently demonstrated. The NMa's concerns focus on the restriction of choices open to patients in the central Zeeland region, as the merger will result in having only one general hospital remaining.

The parties of the proposed merger already notified the NMa of their intention to merge once before, in August 2005. The NMa subsequently also indicated in November 2005 that a license was required for that merger. The subsequent further investigation was suspended in August 2006, because the hospitals withdrew their license application before the NMa had reached a final decision with regard to this merger.