The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has called for independent providers of healthcare to raise safety standards following a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report that raises concerns about the practices of some private providers.
In particular, the RCS has called for private hospitals to publish data the NHS normally publishes on unexpected deaths, never events, and serious injuries to patients, as well as data on the outcomes of treatment. This would enable effective monitoring and greater transparency in the sector. The Private Healthcare Information Network is already making moves to increase data reporting.
The President of the Royal College of Surgeons, Professor Derek Alderson, spoke out as the CQC published a report on the quality and safety of care provided by independent acute hospitals in England. It showed that while the majority were rated as ‘good’ (62 per cent) or ‘outstanding’ (8 per cent), almost a third of hospitals were rated as ‘requires improvement’ (30 per cent). The CQC had the ‘greatest concerns’ on safety – 41 per cent of hospitals were rated as ‘requires improvement’ and 1 per cent as ‘inadequate’ in this area.
Comparisons with NHS hospitals’ own CQC ratings are difficult given the private sector generally does not provide emergency treatment.
Professor Alderson said: “This report shows that the majority of private hospitals are providing high quality care to patients and some are outstanding. However, it also exposes the poorer practices of some independent providers and underlines the need for a renewed focus on improving patient safety.
“In particular, we are concerned that inspectors found proven safety procedures, such as the WHO surgical checklist, were not always fully embedded in private practice. They also found that too often safety was viewed as the responsibility of the individual clinician rather than a corporate responsibility and there was a lack of effective oversight of the practising privileges of consultants.
“The private sector should report similar safety and quality data to the NHS – on unexpected deaths, never events, and serious injuries – to enable effective monitoring and transparency. It should also be better at taking part in clinical audits – this could become a condition of all NHS and private organisations’ registration with the Care Quality Commission.”