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RCS calls for private sector to raise patient safety standards in response to CQC report

11 Apr 2018

The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has today called for independent providers of healthcare to raise safety standards following a Care Quality Commission 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 Care Quality Commission (CQC) published a report on the quality and safety of care provided by independent acute hospitals in England. It showed that while the majority of hospitals were rated as ‘good’ (62%) or ‘outstanding’ (8%), almost a third of hospitals were rated as ‘requires improvement’ (30%). The CQC had the ‘greatest concerns’ on safety - 41% of hospitals were rated as ‘requires improvement’ and 1% 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 recent Ian Paterson case demonstrated that there is no room for complacency and further actions should be taken to minimise harm to patients in both the NHS and private sector. We must continue to promote a culture, in all types of healthcare, where patient safety concerns are not brushed aside.

“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. The outcomes of cancer patients being treated in the private sector are not known, for example, and cosmetic surgery, which happens almost entirely in the private sector, needs to be better regulated. ”

Notes to editors

The Royal College of Surgeons of England is a professional membership organisation and registered charity, which exists to advance surgical standards and improve patient care.

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