Independent hospitals must ‘get their house in order’ as third revealed to require improvement

Independent hospitals must get their houses in order on patient safety if they are to partner with the NHS, the Health Secretary has said

In a letter to the chief executives of leading independent healthcare providers, Jeremy Hunt ordered urgent action to be taken to improve patient safety in the sector.

As part of its recent report on the sector, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated a third of independent hospitals as “requires improvement”.

It also raised patient safety as its biggest concern.

Following the report, Mr Hunt (pictured) has demanded urgent assurances from the sector that it will take rapid action to improve its openness and transparency.

He said: “Like many of my predecessors on both sides of the political divide, I believe that the independent sector can play a useful role in adding capacity, promoting innovation and offering patients choice.

“However, if the sector is to partner with the NHS and benefit from our world-leading medical training, we need urgent assurances that the independent sector will get its house in order on safety, as well as a commitment to take rapid action to match the NHS’ world-recognised progress on transparency.”

The areas the letter outlines to be addressed include looking at what similarly robust action could be taken to ensure rapid improvement at an independent hospital when rated “inadequate” by the CQC, and greater transparency when patient safety mistakes have been made.

The CQC’s report highlighted a number of examples of poor practice, in addition to wide variation in the way different providers managed quality of care.

Different providers managed governance in different ways with some relying on informal arrangements based on relationships, rather than formal systems, the Department of Health said.

The CQC said that where problems were identified in its inspections, independent providers made improvements quickly, but there is clearly scope for action to be taken to address concerns in vital areas, and the report recognises the NHS has much to teach the independent sector.

The Health Secretary has given the sector two weeks to provide a response with clear actions set out.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Peter Byrne / PA Wire.