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Healthcare investigators undeterred by KPMG hurdle

Chantelle Benjamin

Probe into the private healthcare sector goes ahead.

The Competition Commission is going ahead with its hotly debated probe into the private healthcare sector. (Madelene Cronjé, M&G)

The Competition Commission is going ahead with its hotly debated probe into the private healthcare sector, despite a legal bid by Netcare to prevent KPMG from acting as a technical adviser to the commission because it has done consultancy work for the healthcare company.

The commission will hold its first public hearings by the middle of the year, deputy commissioner Trudi Makhaya told the Mail & Guardian.

"We will work around the court case and start the inquiry without KPMG if necessary," she said, adding that a panel of experts was expected to be announced in the "the next few weeks".

It would preside over the hearings, review submissions and all the evidence and write the report, due in November next year, she said. The technical advisers would provide some of the background research.

Netcare has launched a challenge in the Johannesburg high court, claiming that KPMG has had access to privileged information because of consultancy work it did for the healthcare company.

Netcare also says that KPMG should not be assisting the commission with any research until the matter has been heard next month.

Review to be more complicated than expected
An initial investigation by Genesis Analytics and submissions from the sector revealed that a review would be more complicated than expected and would also have to look into sectors such as pharmaceuticals and medical devices, delaying the start of the inquiry by a few months.

Makhaya said Netcare was the only one to complain. "There has been a lot of co-operation from all sectors in health and mostly the commission has received queries from organisations or companies."

The inquiry will be the first to test a new section in the Competition Amendment Act, which gives the commission the authority to launch an investigation and not be limited to pursuing specific cases of collusion and price fixing.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has said it took him two years to convince the commission to consider an investigation.

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