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Medical Negligence

Royal College of Surgeons demand more information from private hospitals

Estimated reading time: 3 mins

Alice Sanderson, April 15, 2019

Following the case of rogue surgeon Ian Paterson, the Royal College of Surgeons has said that private hospitals need to do more to keep patients safe and prevent this from happening again.

Patterson carried out hundreds of unnecessary operations on patients to gain money from the NHS, and in 2017 he was jailed for 20 years, having been found guilty of 17 counts of wounding with intent.

More than 150 patients have given evidence at an independent inquiry into his conduct, with more still coming forward.

Despite concerns having been raised against Paterson in the NHS, he had continued to work in the private sector without repercussions.

The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) say that as the NHS looks to relieve capacity, the numbers of patients being treated in the private sector is increasing.

According to them, the private sector carried out almost a third of all NHS-funded knee and hip replacements between 2017-2018.

More information is needed between sectors

The RCS say that the private sector should be better at sharing information about consultants’ performances, and it must collect and publish the same level of patient safety data as the NHS.

President of the RCS Professor Derek Alderson said surgeons were “deeply shocked” by Paterson’s case.

He said it highlighted the need for “an urgent review of how we assure safety standards in the independent sector”.

"There is no doubt that Ian Paterson was a rogue individual. That said, the entire healthcare sector must do more to prevent someone like him from ever causing harm again.

"This starts with being able to collect and analyse good quality patient safety and outcomes data," he said.

"There must be stronger oversight and protection for patients, regardless of whether they have their operation in an NHS hospital or in the independent sector."

The RCS are calling for:

  • Data on patient safety and clinical audits to be collected and published by private hospitals.
  • Consultants’ practising arrangements to be better monitored.
  • Agreements between private hospitals and local NHS trusts to provide critical care support if there are complications after an operation.
  • Data to be collected on all new surgical procedures and devices used in the private or NHS sectors.
  • More information to be shared between private and NHS sectors on doctors’ performance.

Unlike the NHS, the private sector currently does not have to publish data on what and how many procedures have been carried out.

While it does have to report on any unexpected deaths or serious injuries, this data is not routinely published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Response

The Independent Healthcare Providers Network, the representative body for private sector providers, said it has made sure that providers are allowed to participate in more clinical audits and submit more data.

"However, further work is needed to allow the sector to participate in the full range of NHS data sets and clinical audits and it is now vital that all those involved in better aligning NHS and independent sector data maintain the momentum."

The chief inspector of hospitals at the CQC, Professor Ted Baker, said that “regardless of how they are funded” all providers of healthcare are held to the same standards of quality and safety, and this will continue to be the case.

He added: "All independent providers are required to notify CQC of any serious incident that takes place in their services.

"That information is used alongside intelligence gathered from other sources such as feedback from patients and their families, clinical audits and relevant performance data.

"Together this information helps us to determine where and when to inspect and identify where action is needed by providers to improve care."

The CQC also said that it will start using a tool that monitors changes to the quality of care, including serious injuries and unexpected deaths.

Further information

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