‘Perilous’ hospitals



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/ Health

Are private hospitals really more dangerous than NHS ones, as a new report claims?

Sir, Your report “Private hospitals ‘more dangerous than NHS’ ” (News, Nov 30) highlights a much neglected area of patient safety that will only increase as patients choose private healthcare or private hospitals are contracted to carry out procedures on behalf of the NHS. In addition to offering minor procedures, private companies are increasingly offering treatment where there are serious health conditions.

As a clinical negligence lawyer I have for many years witnessed failings at private hospitals. Patients often believe that they are receiving better treatment when this is not necessarily the case. I urge private hospitals to review the quality of services offered to ensure that their patients are fully cared for and able to make informed choices. In my view, lives could be saved.

Hodge Jones & Allen LLP

Sir, The Centre for Health and Public Interest (CHPI) survey which you report makes a number of unsubstantiated claims about the provision of care in independent hospitals. The report’s findings are not based on a representative sample, do not compare independent sector hospitals with publicly owned hospitals and risk alarming patients unnecessarily.

The CHPI also misreports that there is no commitment to bring independent hospitals into the same transparency regime as NHS ones. The private healthcare information network has been established to publish a range of healthcare data for patients. The overwhelming majority of patient care delivered by independent sector hospitals is safe, efficient and of excellent quality.

Fiona Booth, CEO, Association of Independent Healthcare Organisations; Dr Howard Freeman, clinical director, NHS Partners Network

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