Report calls for increased transparency in private hospital data

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

A report published this month by the Centre for Health and the Public Interest (CHPI) calls for private hospitals to be required to release the same levels of data about patient safety incidents as NHS trusts and foundation trusts.  It states that this should be a requirement of registration with the CQC.

The report also calls for patients to be made aware of the different risk factors between being treated in a small private hospital and a much larger NHS hospital.

The report studied data from CQC inspection reports into private hospitals, data from national clinical audits, freedom of information requests and parliamentary questions.  It found that 28% of the income generated by private hospitals comes from treating NHS patients.   It also found that between October 2010 and April 2014 802 patients died unexpectedly in private hospitals in England and 921 serious injuries had been reported.

The report states “because of the limited reporting requirements for private hospitals we are unable to state whether these deaths and injuries should be a cause for concern.  We do know that compared to NHS hospitals, private hospitals mainly treat patients who are ‘low risk’ patients – those who are less likely to develop complications following surgery.”

The report also highlighted that there have been 2662 emergency admissions from the private sector to the NHS in 2012-13.

Professor Colin Leys, Co-author of the report said “The pubic and regulators have access to more information than ever before about how NHS services are performing but the same cannot be said for private hospitals.  The government has recognised the crucial role of transparency in making hospitals safer, but reporting requirements should apply wherever patients are treated.  This is too important to be left to the industry to address.  This is a question of accountability.  It’s basic necessity for all hospitals to report the same data.”

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