An initial investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has found that a merger between 2 dental providers would not harm the majority of patients in the United Kingdom, but action is needed to address specific competition concerns for those living in the South West and North East of England.
The CMA carried out a Phase 1 investigation into the anticipated purchase of Dentex Healthcare Group Limited (Dentex Healthcare) by Portman Healthcare (Group) Limited (Portman Healthcare), which is owned by Core Equity Holdings. The companies would together operate approximately 400 dental practices across the United Kingdom.
The investigation looked at the potential impact of the merger for patients in areas where both businesses currently offer NHS or private dental treatments, which range from general dentistry (for example, check-ups and fillings) to more complex procedures like implants and orthodontics.
While sufficient competition will remain after the merger in most cases, the CMA found that the deal would raise competition concerns in the provision of NHS orthodontic treatments in Truro as well as for private dental services provided to those living in Tavistock, Ashburton and Durham. Additional concerns were also found in relation to competition for NHS contracts to provide orthodontic services across Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, where access to specialist treatment is limited for patients.
Prior to the conclusion of the investigation, the businesses accepted that the merger would raise concerns in these areas and asked the CMA to move straight to a discussion of potential remedies to address these concerns.
Sorcha O’Carroll, CMA Senior Director of Mergers, said:
Everyone should have access to dental treatment wherever they live in the UK. Competition between dental practices is crucial to ensure patients have access to good quality services at competitive prices. While in the majority of areas the deal will not harm patients, we are concerned that it could lead to less choice, lower quality and higher prices for patients in certain parts of the UK.
The businesses involved have accepted our concerns and it’s now up to them to address these effectively, so we can prevent a loss of competition in the South West and North East – resolving any need for further investigation.