Patients should be aware of risks of private hospitals, warns think-tank

5 November 2014

Patients should be aware of risks of private hospitals, warns think-tank

A think tank has warned that patients should be made aware of the ‘different’ risks of having surgery in small private hospitals compared to larger NHS ones, urging greater awareness of the number of unexpected deaths and serious injuries across England's private hospitals.

According to a report by the Centre for Health and Public Interest (CHPI) there were over 800 unexpected deaths and 900 serious injuries across England's 465 private hospitals from 2010-2014. The study looked at statistics made available from hospitals, freedom of information responses and CQC inspection reports.

The report went on to suggest that patient safety incidents were not reported as strictly in private hospitals compared to NHS hospitals, including mortality data, and may well cloud the exact numbers of incidents that actually happened.

The report raised concern that private hospitals often do not have intensive-care or ICU facilities, equipment and medical support when complications arise during surgery. The CHPI added that medical records were being poorly kept and were often flagged by CQC reports on private hospitals, with the observation that consultants kept records off-site. has provided advice, guidance and support for patients who have experienced medical mistreatment and avoidable harm at both NHS and private hospitals.

The CHPI has recommended that private hospitals should include full reporting of patient safety incidents and release full information under the Freedom of Information Act ‘in respect of anything related to the treatment of NHS patients’.

The report said: ‘Private providers should be subject to exactly the same requirements to report patient safety incidents (including mortality data) as NHS trusts and foundation trusts. All of the information should be published in the same way as it is for NHS providers and this should be a requirement  of registration with the CQC.’  

It added: ‘It is important that patients are made aware of the different risk factors between being treated in a small private hospital and a much larger NHS hospital.’

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