The Guardian February 7, 2001


Towards a private hospital monopoly

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)  the Federal 
Government's privatisation body  has withdrawn its earlier opposition to 
Mayne Nickless' planned takeover of Australian Hospital Care (AHC). Mayne 
Nickless, however, has agreed to sell four of AHC's hospitals, one on the 
Gold Coast and three in Melbourne.

If the takeover goes ahead, Mayne Nickless will end up with approximately 
30 per cent of private hospital beds in metropolitan Melbourne and 60 per 
cent on the Gold Coast.

The ACCC is only opposed to a 100 percent monopoly, for fear that the 
health insurance companies might face higher monopoly prices when 
negotiating agreements with private hospitals.

Mayne Nickless, perhaps better known for its transport and security 
operations, is now the largest for-profit private operator of hospitals in 
Australia.

Its Health Care of Australia (HCoA) company has more than 4,800 beds and 47 
hospitals throughout Australia, as well as interests in hospitals in 
Indonesia and Fiji.

Much of its expansion has come through privatisation by state governments 
and takeovers.

Mayne Nickless's MNDS  its pathology and diagnostic imaging section  is 
Australia's second largest provider of these services. It also is building 
up a chain of medical centres.

The takeover of AHC by Mayne Nickless will be a further step in the ongoing 
concentration and monopolisation of medical services by a handful of 
private corporations.

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