“Professional Standards Authority issues important patient safety warning about the growth of for-profit healthcare in the UK”
David Rowland Director of CHPI
The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) – the statutory body which oversees healthcare professional regulation in the UK – has issued warnings about potential patient safety risks from the growth in for-profit healthcare in the UK, which it says regulators and government must address.
In its annual report ‘Safer Care for All’ released on Tuesday 6 September, the Authority:
• Provides examples of where financial incentives and conflicts of interest in for-profit medicine have led to patients being harmed.
• Explains that the rise in private healthcare in the UK is likely to lead to greater conflicts of interest in medicine.
• Identifies that regulation covering financial conflicts of interest in healthcare can be weak and poorly enforced.
• Reports that high street healthcare providers, have been accused of ‘hard sell’ tactics that seem to prioritise profit over the best interests of both patients and healthcare professionals and that the regulation of high street businesses is complex, piecemeal and might not be fit for purpose.
• Recommends that the inherent tension between profit and patient best interests should be monitored and that a cross-sector review should be conducted of the effectiveness of arrangements to address financial conflicts of interest among healthcare professionals.
In response to the report’s findings and recommendations, David Rowland Director said:
“For-profit healthcare inevitably creates a tension between the financial interests of companies and the best interest of patients. Because of the NHS, patients in the UK have over the past 7 decades been insulated from the risks to patient safety which come with for-profit healthcare. However, due to cuts to the NHS, more and more people are being forced to choose private treatment. This increases the risk of harm which comes from companies – and in some cases – medical professionals putting their financial interests above the health and well-being of patients.”
“We very much welcome the Professional Standards Authority’s report which identifies these issues so clearly and which will hopefully require both regulatory bodies and government to act.”
Notes to Editors:
1. David Rowland was formerly Head of Policy at the General Optical Council (GOC) the General Dental Council (GDC) and the General Social Care Council (GSCC).
2. The CHPI has conducted several studies into the existence of conflicts of interest in medicine and the weak regulatory framework which governs them: “Pounds for Patients” (2019).
3. Our recent research into the extent of conflicts of interest in the medical profession was reported in the Guardian earlier this year.
4. The CHPI has also identified the patient safety risks associated with private hospitals “No Safety Without Liability” (2017).
5. The PSA report can be found here.