CHPI responds to Jeremy Hunt letter to Private Hospital Sector

CHPI | May 8, 2018 | Featured, Press releases

Embargoed: 00:00 Tuesday 8th May 2018

The CHPI welcomes today’s letter from the Secretary of State to the private hospital sector which aims at reducing patient safety risks across the sector.

The intervention by Jeremy Hunt follows a coroner’s report into the avoidable death of Peter O’Donnell, an NHS patient who died following routine treatment in a private hospital in Bolton. The coroner required the Secretary of State to set out by 15 May how he would prevent similar future patient deaths.

The coroner relied heavily on the CHPI’s report on patient safety in private hospitals published last November. The Secretary of State’s letter to private hospitals also endorses these recommendations.

Professor Colin Leys, co-chair of the CHPI, said:

“The Secretary of State’s letter to the private hospital sector and his demand that the sector get its house in order is an acknowledgement that the way in which private hospitals carry on their business poses risks to patients. It is also a recognition that the regulation of private hospitals by the CQC has so far failed to tackle these risks.

Despite numerous calls for reforms – including from the Health Select Committee as far back as 1999 – and despite the thousands of people affected by the Ian Paterson scandal, which left hundreds of women maimed and injured – the private sector’s business model has not changed one bit.

Therefore it is highly likely that a much stronger intervention by Parliament will be required to address the risks identified by the CHPI and now acknowledged by the Secretary of State.

With around 600,000 NHS patients now being treated in private hospitals each year it is essential that GPs and other clinicians referring patients to private hospitals are aware of the risks that their patients will face, and they should make patients aware as well”



Notes to Editors

CHPI – The Centre for Health and the Public Interest is an independent think-tank which focuses on ensuring the public interest is represented in the debate about health policy. The CHPI has undertaken 3 major studies of patient safety in private hospitals since 2013.

These can be found here:

The latest report which was relied upon by the Manchester Coroner was published in November 2017 and made 5 recommendations to address systemic risks in the private hospital sector. These are:

  • Recommendation 1 – Private hospitals should directly employ the surgeons and other consultants who work in their hospitals
  • Recommendation 2 – Private hospitals will not be truly safe unless they have adequate facilities to deal with situations where a patient’s life becomes endangered following an operation, ending the hazardous transfer of patients to NHS hospitals
  • Recommendation 3 – Private hospitals must end their reliance on a single junior doctor (a Resident Medical Officer) working extreme shift patterns to provide post-operative care for patients.
  • Recommendation 4 – Private hospitals should be required to adhere to the same patient safety reporting requirements as NHS hospitals in order to enhance the possibility of detecting any risk of harm to patients.
  • Recommendation 5 – The legislation governing private hospitals should be amended to make clear that all those who are registered with the CQC should be fully liable for all the services which are provided within them, including the actions of surgeons and other healthcare professionals.

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