COMMERCIAL: Monitor has provisionally rejected a private sector provider’s complaint that a south west primary care trust breached competition rules - but criticised the commissioner’s lack of transparency.

St Piran’s Healthcare Limited claimed Cornwall and Isles of Scilly PCT had discriminated against their Kryllas Manor facility when commissioning inpatient placements for patients with learning disabilities.

Just one patient was placed at the 14 bed hospital in Falmouth during the 11 months it was open in 2010. In a complaint to the Co-operation and Competition Panel last year St Piran’s claimed the discrimination was due to the proximity of Kryllas Manor to the NHS-run Budock Hospital. Budock was closed after it emerged patients were being physically abused by staff.

Monitor, which incorporated the panel on April 1, published provisional findings today and is seeking views from “interested parties”.

The panel found the PCT had failed to conduct a “transparent decision-making process” in relation to the placement of patients with learning disabilities, which was inconsistent with the government’s principles and rules of cooperation and competition.

It also agreed with St Piran’s that the PCT had made statements “suggesting that it had closed its mind to the possibility of commissioning services from Kryllas Manor”.

However, it found this was because NHS Cornwall had decided to avoid using inpatient placements for this patient group, in line with national policy.

The report said: “We did not identify any instances where, as a result of Cornwall PCT’s conduct, patients who required specialist inpatient mental health and learning disability services of the kind provided by St Piran’s were not placed at Kryllas Manor and were instead placed out of area.”

The panel concluded the PCT had not breached the principles but noted the lack of transparency “may have had wider consequences outside the scope of this report”.

In a statement Monitor said that although the PCT no longer exists the ruling wold provide guidance for other commissioners.