Inspection and Regulation

11.04.18

Third of private hospitals failing on patient safety, says CQC

Almost a third of private hospitals in England are providing substandard care, according to a new report by the CQC.

While the majority (70%) of the 206 independent acute hospitals in England are providing ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ care for their patients, 30% have been rated as ‘requires improvement’ due to concerns over safety.

In its annual report, the CQC found that a lack of formalised governance procedures meant hospitals were not effectively monitoring the work of consultants who operate under “practising privileges” – where a consultant clinician works in a hospital but is not a direct employee.

Concerns were also raised over surgeons not always following safety procedures recommended by the World Health Organisation surgical checklist.

Other issues highlighted by CQC include a failure by some hospitals to adequately monitor clinical outcomes to evaluate the effectiveness of the services they were providing.

Despite this, the report found that most patients have prompt access to effective treatment and experience personalised care from highly-skilled and caring staff, with 89% of hospitals being rated as ‘good’ and 11% rated as ‘outstanding’ for how ‘caring’ their services were.

The majority of hospitals were also rated as good (86%) or outstanding (7%) for how ‘responsive’ they were. Patients were more likely to have named consultants and the hospitals managed their flow of patients well, which meant that there were few cancellations or delayed admissions or procedures.

Responding to the findings, Dr Howard Freeman, clinical director at NHS Partners Network, part of NHS Confederation, said: “Where the CQC has identified areas for further improvement in independent hospitals it is encouraging that it has found that ‘providers have been quick to respond to inspection findings,’ with over half of the independent acute hospitals re-inspected improving their rating.

“We look forward to working closely with the CQC and other bodies to ensure independent hospitals continue to focus on safe, high-quality and responsive care and the best possible patient experience.”

Professor Ted Baker, chief inspector of hospitals at the CQC, added that much of the care observed in the independent acute hospitals is good, with effective leadership, good staff engagement and close oversight of services.

“However, our inspections also identified concerns around the safety and leadership of some services, often as a result of a lack of safety checks and poor monitoring of risks,” he continued.

“Too often, safety was viewed as the responsibility of individual clinicians, rather than a corporate responsibility supported by formal governance processes. Where we found failings, we have been clear that improvements must be made, using our enforcement powers where needed to protect people.”

The CQC first introduced its comprehensive inspection in 2015 with findings being used to improve future regulation of services.

(Top image c. Peter Byrne, PA Wire)

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