One consequence of the terms of reference for the Paterson inquiry that was announced at the end of March will be a very public ‘league table’ comparing quality and safety governance in the private health sector with the NHS. Improving the quality and transparency of independent healthcare in the UK.
The inquiry will examine a wide range of accountability and responsibility issues following the conviction of rogue surgeon Ian Paterson for 15 years in 2017.
The inquiry, which plans to publish its full report next summer, will compare the independent sector and NHS on areas including information sharing, professional standards, referrals, management of adverse incidents and multi-disciplinary working.
From our experience in the NHS, we know there are inconsistencies and pockets of poor-practice, and this will be the same for the private health sector. Investigating these serious incidents in the NHS must be part of a diligent ‘Safety Governance’campaign. Carrying these investigations out in a fair and open manner.
Spire Healthcare, where Paterson had worked at two of its hospitals, commissioned Verita to review its governance arrangements. The review, published in 2014, found that many of the management and governance arrangements at the two Spire hospitals were weak.
We made 15 recommendations in our final report aimed at strengthening the work of medical advisory committees, the granting and maintenance of practising privileges, the monitoring of consultants’ performance generally, and consultant appraisals. We were also clear that the problems the report identified were common to many independent healthcare providers.
Rightly or wrongly, any quality or safety failings in the independent sector will be viewed more harshly by the media, political and public. Spire has taken the opportunity to act on all 15 of our recommendations across their entire network of 39 hospitals. I would urge other providers to take proactive action now. Independent reviews of current practices to ensure they meet our Paterson recommendations will help safeguard patients and corporate reputations ahead of next summer.