Consultation on database of consultants launched after Paterson inquiry

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A consultation has been launched considering the first steps toward the creation of a single unified dataset for planned hospital admissions in England.

The NHS Digital and Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) consultation forms part of the next phase of the acute data alignment programme (ADAPt) to coordinate healthcare data with NHS recorded activity.

It follows an inquiry into rogue surgeon Ian Paterson, which concluded a great deal more responsibility for safety was needed, recommending a “single repository of the whole practice of consultants across England” which should be “accessible and understandable to the public”.

The inquiry accused the NHS and private healthcare sector of “wilful blindness” to Paterson’s “aberrant clinical practice” which saw him perform unnecessary and damaging operations on hundreds of breast cancer patients.

The consultation, launched on 19 February, sets out a series of changes to how data is recorded and managed across private and NHS care, along with a series of pilot projects, based upon feedback from a variety of stakeholders and recommendations from the inquiry.

It aims to seek the views of private and NHS providers, clinicians, the public and other organisations with an interest in private healthcare and will be used to help shape the future changes.

The General Medical Council currently only collects information about the qualifications and training of consultants.

Health secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “The recent Paterson Inquiry highlighted the shocking failures that can occur when information is not shared and acted upon in both the NHS and independent sector.

“We are working tirelessly across the health system to deliver the highest standards of care for patients. Trusted data is absolutely critical to this mission and the ADAPt programme will help improve transparency and raise standards for all.”

The PHIN is to begin sharing with NHS Digital the national dataset of private admitted patient care in England, under the changes proposed in the consultation.

The repository of information will be underpinned by common standards to record and report activity, quality and risk is a consistent way, according to NHS Digital.

Providers, care planners, regulators and researchers will be able to access the information to better understand how private and public healthcare data can be used to deliver better care.

NHS Digital will also pilot collecting data directly from independent providers on privately funded care within its secondary uses service, consolidating the data reporting processes and reducing the administrative burden on hospitals.

This data will be shared with PHIN so they can assess its suitability for the publication of hospital and consultant performance.

The PHIN began publishing initial performance data for over 1,000 consultants working across private healthcare in the UK in 2018, following a mandate handed down by the UK Competition and Markets Authority whose 2014 investigation criticised the lack of transparency in private healthcare.

Organisations including the Royal College of Surgeons, the Independent Healthcare Provider Network, and HCA Healthcode, called for a single repository of information on consultants to improve patient safety in its evidence to the Paterson inquiry.

David Hare, chief executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, added: “The recent Paterson inquiry report rightly called for much more of a ‘whole systems’ approach to patient safety and data transparency.

“In seeking to better align NHS and independent sector data, the ADAPt programme represents a key step towards the seamless flow of data along the patient journey – helping to ensure full visibility of the safety and effectiveness of care delivered by all providers, and enabling patients to make the most informed choices about their treatment.”

The first performance measures for NHS hospitals were published in May, 2017.

The independent inquiry following the malpractice of Ian Paterson was launched in December 2017. Paterson is currently serving a 20-year jail sentence for 17 counts of wounding with intent.

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