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Editorials

Improving transparency and performance of private hospitals

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m577 (Published 14 February 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m577

Linked Opinion

The Paterson case is not a one-off—it indicates systemic weaknesses in the NHS

  1. Michael Anderson, research officer1,
  2. Avi Cherla, research officer1,
  3. George Wharton, senior lecturer in practice1,
  4. Elias Mossialos, head of department1 2
  1. 1Department of Health Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK
  2. 2Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: M Anderson M.Anderson5{at}lse.ac.uk

Lack of transparency helped Ian Paterson to operate unchecked for years, according to inquiry

The recent report of the Paterson Inquiry identified multiple levels of dysfunction across England’s health system. These allowed surgeon Ian Paterson to practise unchecked for many years, causing serious harm to thousands of patients.1 Among the less surprising of the failings is the lack of transparency in reporting activity and outcomes by the private hospitals where he worked. As the report notes, transparency is no panacea, but it is essential for protecting patients from harm. Urgent action is now needed to improve reporting by independent sector providers to bring them in line with standards in the NHS.

These concerns are long standing and motivated the publication of the Competition and Markets Authority’s private healthcare market investigation order 2014, which required independent providers to publicly report 11 performance metrics at both hospital and consultant level (table 1).2 Subsequently, responsibility for collecting and reporting these data passed to the Private Healthcare Information Network.

View this table:
Table 1

Performance …

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