Private hospitals ordered to improve patient safety

PRIVATE hospitals in England have been warned by the health secretary to “get their house in order and improve safety”.

The move follows a critical report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which cited patient safety as its biggest concern within the sector. The safety regulator rated a third of independent hospitals as “requires improvement” following examples of poor practice and unsafe care.

Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt said that if the independent sector is to partner with the NHS, “we need urgent assurances that [it] will get its house in order on safety, as well as a commitment to take rapid action to match the NHS’s world-recognised progress on transparency.”

He gave them two weeks to respond and set out an action plan.

In his letter, he said it was unacceptable that the sector was “potentially letting down patients on safety and quality” and pledged to look for ways to achieve “rapid improvement” from private providers offering inadequate care.

He also called for “fair remuneration” for NHS hospitals who are dealing with the consequences of negligent care from the independent sector. He said: “I have asked my officials to develop proposals to ensure that where NHS organisations bear the costs of negligence, they are better able to secure payment that reflects actual costs from your sector.”

The letter also called on private providers to have in place appropriate escalation processes and agreements for critical care and transfers to the NHS. Improvements were also called for in the monitoring of the work and standards of consultants.