How safe is private healthcare?

  • Posted

Posted 27/08/2014

Rosaline Wong 1397335781_RosalineWong2.jpg

A report published by the Centre for Health and the Public Interest has called for a greater transparency about the quality of healthcare in the private sector. 

Rosaline Wong, a clinical negligence solicitor at Ashtons Legal, comments: “I have settled many negligence claims against the private health sector and I often wonder how patients can judge the safety of their care if private hospitals are not obliged to make data on patient outcomes available to the public.

The reality is that the private health sector is not subject to the same level of scrutiny as the NHS. Patients may be oblivious to problems such as the lack of on site senior medical cover, a dedicated resuscitation team, intensive care provision and unsafe staffing arrangements. As a result of their varied standards in auditing and reporting adverse incidents, negligent surgeons are allowed to continue to perform botched surgeries in private hospitals until they are struck off by the General Medical Council. Sadly when things go wrong, like the Musgrove Park Hospital’s outsourcing of cataract operations to an independent provider, the NHS has to step in and carry out remedial treatment. How much this costs the taxpayer is not known but it is fair to say that it is the vulnerable patients who suffer most and our National Health Service ends up picking up the pieces.

Outsourcing NHS work to the independent health sector has been on the rise year on year. Operations are contracted out to the private health sector to shorten waiting times. It is estimated that one quarter of admissions to private hospitals in England per year are funded by the taxpayer. It is also predicted that delivery of NHS services by the private sector will increase between 20% and 40% by 2020. The NHS England and the Care Quality Commission must have access to vital information on private patient safety and a robust regulatory regime to ensure that NHS contracts are awarded to the most appropriate provider. We all need healthcare at some point in our life so it is in our interest to push for transparency on the quality of healthcare in the private sector and not leave the tendering process to the bean counters”.


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