“This market inquiry is the first of its kind in the country. The panel, as most of you have been doing, had to familiarise itself with the legal as well as the competition environment within which the inquiry must be conducted,” said private healthcare inquiry presiding chairman, Sandile Ngcobo.
“In addition, some of the panel had to familiarise themselves with the private healthcare sector. This being a new terrain in South Africa, some of the panel members had to study the practice in international and comparable foreign jurisdictions on the conduct of market inquiries and reflect on the guidance these might offer on how to conduct this inquiry.”
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According to the panel, which was announced on 30 January 2014, the purpose of the inquiry into the private healthcare space is to determine whether or not the process of competition is working well and whether or not it can be improved effectively in the market as a whole.
“The inquiry panel members shall gather evidence and insights into private healthcare through public hearings, review of secondary material, information requests, consultations and summons, as required,” Ngcobo explained.
“The success of the inquiry is inextricably linked to the open and transparent airing of views and information.”
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The statement of issues and administrative guidelines issued for public comment is expected to commence on 31 May 2014 and a call for submissions on subject matter of the inquiry will begin on 1 August 2014.
Analysis of the information will happen between 1 August 2014 and 30 October 2014 and public hearings regarding the inquiry are expected to take place from 1 March 2015 to 30 April 2015.
Ngcobo added that presently, the panel aims to make provisional findings and recommendations available for public comment in October 2015.
“In conclusion, as the panel members we commit to a fair and transparent engagement. We also request that stakeholders cooperate with this inquiry constructively and responsibly. This inquiry will be conducted in the interest of promoting and maintaining competition in the private healthcare sector,” said Ngcobo.
“The attainment of this objective is not only in the interest of consumers and patients, it is also in the interest of society at large – innovation, vibrancy, efficiency and improved quality are all potential outcomes of a more competitive market and this is in the interest of all South Africans.”