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Patients should be aware of risks of private hospitals, says think-tank

Patients should be made aware of the ‘different’ risks of having surgery in small private hospitals compared to larger NHS ones, a think tank has warned.

There were over 800 unexpected deaths and 900 serious injuries across England’s 465 private hospitals in the last four years, according to a report by the Centre for Health and Public Interest (CHPI) which studied available statistics, FOI responses and CQC inspection reports.

However the reporting requirements for patient safety incidents were far less stringent than for NHS hospitals, including on mortality data, it said.

According to the report, private hospitals often lack intensive-care facilities, equipment and medical support for when complications arise during surgery. The authors also warned that poor keeping of medical records was a recurring theme in CQC reports on private hospitals, including consultants often keeping records off-site.

The CHPI has recommended that private hospitals become subject to new requirements, including full reporting of patient safety incidents and releasing information under the Freedom of Information Act ‘in respect of anything related to the treatment of NHS patients’.

The report said: ‘Private providers should be subject to exactly the same requirements to report patient safety incidents (including mortality data) as NHS trusts and foundation trusts. All of the information should be published in the same way as it is for NHS providers and this should be a requirement  of registration with the CQC.’  

It added: ‘It is important that patients are made aware of the different risk factors between being treated in a small private hospital and a much larger NHS hospital.’

According to CHPI, private hospitals rely on NHS patients for around 28% of their income, but ‘rely heavily’ on NHS hospitals to treat patients when complications arise, including some 6,000 referrals from private hospitals to NHS providers each year.

It comes as Department of Health spend on treatment of NHS patients by private providers topped £10bn for the first time last year.

Readers' comments (4)

  • Profit before patient, shareholder interest before public. Have we not seen enough of privatisation of utilities, railways and the banks screwing us then coming cap in hand to the tax payer to bail them out whilst providing poor service.
    Please Pulse store all these tails and comments so we can say one huge I TOLD YOU SO in the future. I do hope the DH gets the CQC to inspect and come down hard on all those hospitals. Private is not always better unless there is true commercial value which is why some eat KFC and some at the Ivy but we cannot let that happen to medicine in the UK

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  • Vinci Ho

    I had a young , 'innocent' 22 years old female patient went to have breast surgery in a private hospital and developed what by description , ARDS( adult respiratory distress syndrome) post-operatively . There was no ITU anyway. In panic, she was treated with frusemide IV. Luckily , she recovered quite quickly and was typically sent back to GP to follow up. She did not have a clue what happened and was just happy the breast job was done !

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  • Shh! Can you hear the nationnal press publicising this? Nope, me neither!

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  • I cant hear the press above the din of ambulances carting people in to the maternity unit from the private provider!
    Things go wrong in hospital - of course they do - that's the nature of going to hospital - that's why we don't sit at home wondering if we can undertake DIY appendectomies.
    That's why there is not such thing as 'minor surgery' - only minor surgeons (something a tutor of mine used to say a lot).
    No way on earth I would have any surgery where there isn't the proper back-up - even if only a plan that can be undertaken in lightening-quick speed

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