Routine collection of private hospital data to be tested by NHS

The Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) and NHS Digital have started the testing phase of a programme that will collect data from independent hospitals. The programme is privately-funded and is the first of its kind for the NHS.

The pilot will determine the success of a nation dataset of private and public hospital data in England. It will facilitate the production of “whole practice” information for hospitals and doctors as well as private and NHS hospitals. The need for this information was pointed out after an Independent Inquiry was made into a rogue breast surgeon called Ian Paterson. He provided unnecessary and unsanctioned treatment to patients in both private and NHS hospitals.

The pilots were launched as part of the Acute Data Alignment Programme (ADAPt) which was initiated by the Secretary of State for Health in 2018. The initiative is led jointly by NHS Digital, PHIN (the ‘information organisation’ for private healthcare) as well as the information authority for the NHS in England. Organisations representing both professionals and patients showed their overwhelming support for the programme at a public consultation which was held early in 2020.

The transfer of private admitted patient data from PHIN to NHS Digital will be tested by the ADAPt pilots to identify any technical changes that need to be made. In line with the Private Healthcare Market Investigation Order 2014, the data will be fed onto PHIN where the publication of whole-practice performance measures for consultants and hospitals offering private healthcare services will be published.

The goal is for the national dataset to be made available to public bodies and regulators through NHS Digital. This will allow them to assist in the monitoring of safety and help boost service improvement.

Jem Rashbass, Executive Director of Data Services at NHS Digital, said: “We are pleased that the Adapt programme has reached this important milestone with the launch of these pilots.

“The consultation has shown that there is a desire for a joined-up approach to data in public and private healthcare and these pilots will be the next step on achieving that.

“With the pandemic it has never been clearer how important it is to make data available across the whole healthcare sector to ensure the highest standards of care for patients and transparency across the system.”

Matt James, Chief Executive Officer of PHIN, said: “We are committed to a vision of a single system of data collection for all regulated care regardless of how it is funded or where it is provided, led by the NHS.

“This will enable better governance and regulation to ensure safer care, and better information becoming available to patients to enable informed decisions.

“These pilots are an important step, and we hope to move on quickly to full implementation.”

Nadine Dorries, Minister for patient safety, said: “I’m grateful to see lessons are being learned and acted upon following the harrowing findings of the Paterson Inquiry, with processes being put in place to improve accountability and patient safety in the independent healthcare sector.

“This pilot is an important step and will pave the way for more data sharing and transparency between the NHS and private healthcare sectors, so every patient can get safe, high quality treatment, regardless of where they are treated.”

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