The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has warned eight NHS Hospital Trusts about the anti-competitive running of their private patient units (PPU).
The trusts were reported to the OFT after a whistleblower forwarded an email chain between the eight institutions exchanging data on pricing.
The exchange of commercially sensitive pricing information can result in financial penalties of up to 10 % of worldwide turnover.
However, after a preliminary investigation, the OFT will not be taking the case any further after the trusts showed contrition and gave voluntary assurances that this would not happen again.
The trusts have also agreed to provide competition law training for their staff.
OFT media relations manager Elliott Ball said: “This is the first such case we have looked at with this background.”
The OFT will be writing to all NHS trusts and foundation trusts which operate PPUs with information on how to comply by competition law rules.
OFT services, infrastructure and public market groups director Deborah Jones said: “We welcome the assurances given to us by these trusts which have enabled us to bring this preliminary examination to a close.
“However this does not preclude the OFT from investigating an aspect of hospital trust’s economic activities if it receives further evidence of potential infringements of the law.”
The trusts involved were: Brighton and Sussex
, Frimley Park
, East Sussex Healthcare, Portsmouth
, Dartford and Gravesham, University Hospital Southampton, Epsom and St Helier and East and North Hertfordshire