Competition Authority Secures High Court Undertakings From The IMO

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has today provided undertakings to the High Court (i) not to organise or recommend the collective withdrawal of services or boycotts by its members and (ii) to advise its members that they should decide individually and not collectively whether to participate in publicly funded GP health services on such terms as are offered by the Minister for Health.

The undertakings resolve concerns held by the Competition Authority since it began High Court proceedings against the IMO in July 2013. They form part of a settlement agreement reached today between the Authority and the IMO. The agreement also contains a number of other provisions which confirm the Authority's position – from the point of view of competition law enforcement - regarding the role of the IMO in any process of engagement with the Minister for Health and/or the HSE, and the limitations to that role.

Isolde Goggin, Chairperson of the Authority, said: "This is a good outcome for both patients and the State. It allows the process of reform of the health sector to move ahead while ensuring costs are not increased through anti-competitive behaviour. We are happy that the settlement terms represent a positive outcome for all those who avail of publicly funded GP health services and those who ultimately pay for those services – taxpayers."

The Authority initiated proceedings against the IMO in July 2013 and following the IMO's refusal to rescind a decision of its GP Committee to withdraw certain patient services in protest at proposed Government cuts to fees paid to GPs under the General Medical Services (GMS) contract. Competition law protects consumers by making it illegal for private undertakings to get together to agree the price they charge for their goods or services. Under competition law, self-employed individuals cannot act collectively with the aim of affecting fees paid to them.


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