Private Hospitals 'Must Release' Patient Safety Data

Thinktank Warns About Lack Of Patient Safety Data From Private Hospitals


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397
Private hospitals are being urged to publish the same information on patient safety as their NHS alternatives.

A new report from the Centre for Health and the Public Interest (CHPI) warned that patients in private hospitals may find themselves facing a number of risks, from unsafe staffing requirements to a lack of adequate equipment.

The thinktank, which scrutinises the impact of competition and markets on the NHS, found that more than 800 people have died unexpectedly in English private hospitals over the past four years.

But whereas NHS hospitals are forced to release patient safety data, their private counterparts are not, making it difficult for members of the public to understand how safe these hospitals actually are.

With that in mind, the CHPI has brought together all the available information about the patient safety records of private healthcare providers across England, revealing some potentially concerning statistics.

As well as 802 unexpected deaths, there were 921 serious injuries in private hospitals between October 2010 and April 2014, the organisation discovered.

Furthermore, it found that the majority of these hospitals have no intensive care beds, while some also had no dedicated resuscitation team. In many instances, anaesthetists and surgeons typically worked in isolation, without assistant surgeons or anaesthetists in training.

The report also pointed out that the NHS effectively acts as a "safety net" for the private healthcare sector, with thousands of patients routinely transferred to the NHS after receiving private treatment. 

Professor Colin Leys, co-author of the report, commented: "The government has recognised the crucial role of transparency in making hospitals safer, but reporting requirements should apply wherever patients are treated. 

"With the taxpayer now providing over a billion pounds a year to private hospitals, this is too important to be left to the industry to address."

Expert Opinion
We welcome calls from the Centre for Health and the Public Interest for private medical facilities to publish their patient safety data and for them to be held to the same standards as the NHS. It is vital failings at all medical facilities are reported, thoroughly investigated and corrected, where possible, to ensure that all patients receive the best quality care available.

“Many consultants work across the NHS and private hospitals and private patients deserve the same access to information about any issues or concerns towards those in charge of their care so they can make an informed choice and feel that they are in the safest possible hands.

“In our work we have seen the devastating consequences faced by patients when they fall victim to sub-standard care by a surgeon or are placed in an under-resourced ward that does not have the appropriate staff or facilities to meet their care needs. Publishing this information would go a long way in reassuring patients that failures were being corrected and high standard of care are the top priority across all healthcare facilities.”
Julianne Moore, Partner