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Safety in private hospitals cause for concern

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Will the sector get its house in order?

 

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has written to private hospital chief executives accusing them of having ‘coasted’ on patient safety.

 

He said the private sector uses the NHS as a safety net and transfers patients to NHS hospitals for emergency care when things go wrong.

 

He added that he is not convinced the NHS is being properly remunerated for this service and argued that as profit makers the private sector must be fair with their use of NHS resources.

 

The Department of Health and Social Care is drawing up proposals to make sure the private sector pays the costs involved when the NHS deals with patients who suffer harm during treatment in the private sector.

 

In the letter he told the independent sector to get its house in order on quality and safety. He asked for more transparency, including publishing of data on quality and monitoring of consultants’ work in private hospitals.

 

The letter follows major concerns over safety in the independent sector raised by the Quality Care Commission (CQC) last month.

 

He gave providers two weeks to respond with clear action plans, saying they must match the NHS’s world-recognised progress on transparency.

 

The sector can play a useful role in adding capacity, promoting innovation and offering patients choice, he said. However, if it is to partner with the NHS and benefit from world leading medical training it must address quality and safety as a matter of urgency.

 

Further information

CQC: Most independent acute hospitals are providing good care but stronger governance needed to improve patient safety

Health Service Journal: Hunt attacks private sector over safety and costs