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Surgeons call for stronger oversight and protection for patients at private hospitals

The leader of the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has called for private hospitals to do more to keep patients safe and improve transparency in order to prevent another rogue surgeon like Ian Paterson.

Derek Alderson, the president of the RCS, has said the case of Ian Paterson has “highlighted the need for an urgent review of how we assure safety standards in the independent sector.”

Paterson was a breast surgeon who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2017 after being found guilty of 17 counts of intentionally wounding patients after he performed unnecessary life-changing operations on hundreds of women.

A national enquiry was launched into the surgeon’s malpractice and was extended to include independent hospitals as Paterson had been working at two such hospitals, with Sir Bruce Keogh leading the development of a new framework on the oversight of consultants.

Now the Royal College of Surgeons has said the private sector must collect and publish the same level of patient safety data as the NHS currently does, as well as data around unexpected deaths, never events and serious injuries need to be published by the CQC.

Alderson said the surgical community was “deeply shocked” by the case of Ian Paterson and that whilst the majority of doctors perform their work to a high standard, the case highlights the need for an urgent review.

He said: “There is no doubt that Ian Paterson was a rogue individual.

“That said, the entire healthcare sector must do more to prevent someone like him from ever causing harm again. This starts with being able to collect and analyse good quality patient safety and outcomes data.

“There must be stronger oversight and protection for patients, regardless of whether they have their operation in an NHS hospital or in the independent sector.”

The RCS position statement published today calls for private hospitals to collect and publish data on patient safety and new surgical procedures, better monitoring of consultants’ practicing arrangements, and better sharing of information about a doctor’s performance between the two sectors.

It points out that the private sector does not currently to have to publish data on the procedures it carries out, and does not contribute to the majority of national clinical audits.

David Hare, chief executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, agreed that the Paterson case highlighted the need to ensure the governance processes are effectively mitigating against any criminal or negligent practice from clinicians.

“We have successfully lobbied to ensure that independent sector providers are permitted to submit more data to key national safety systems and participate in more clinical audits and, as the RCS report makes clear, there is real momentum behind this work.”

Image credit - HRAUN


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