ACCC grants re-authorisation for Canberra after-hours medical service capped fee arrangement

The ACCC has decided to grant re-authorisation to enable CALMS Ltd (CALMS) to continue to use its ‘not to exceed’ fee schedule in the provision of after-hours primary medical care in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The final determination follows the ACCC’s draft determination and interim authorisation decision on 24 February 2022.

The locums that provide medical services to CALMS’ patients are engaged as independent contractors. Rather than allowing doctors to set their own fees with complete freedom, CALMS sets a maximum fee scale for the provision of certain services that locums are not able to charge above.

The ACCC considers the conduct is likely to continue to provide public benefits in the form of increased transparency and certainty regarding fees for patients seeking after hours primary medical care in the ACT. This affords greater certainty to CALMS’ patients with respect to the maximum fee for out-of-hours medical services. It may also assist patients in the ACT to make better informed decisions when choosing between the CALMS service, other extended hours clinics and hospital emergency services.

The ACCC considers the conduct is likely to result in limited public detriment as participation by locums is voluntary and the arrangement imposes a fee cap rather than a fee floor.

The arrangements have been authorised by the ACCC since 2005. The ACCC has decided to grant authorisation for a further 10 years, until 5 May 2032.

Further information about the ACCC’s final determination is available on the ACCC’s public register at: AA1000602 – CALMS Ltd

Published date: 
13 April 2022