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NHS Digital and the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) have begun the testing phase of a programme that will see data on privately-funded care from independent hospitals collected by the NHS for the first time.
If successful, the pilot will pave the way for a comprehensive national dataset of public and private hospital data in England, facilitating the production of ‘whole-practice’ information for doctors and hospitals providing both NHS and private care. The need for such information was highlighted by the Independent Inquiry into rogue breast surgeon Ian Paterson, who provided unsanctioned and unnecessary treatment to patients in both NHS and private hospitals.
The pilots are part of the Acute Data Alignment Programme (ADAPt), initiated by the Secretary of State for Health in 2018, and led jointly by NHS Digital, the information authority for the NHS in England, and PHIN, the government-mandated ‘information organisation’ for private healthcare. A public consultation held earlier this year saw overwhelming support for the programme from organisations representing both professionals and patients.
The ADAPt pilots will test the technical changes needed to transfer the collection of private admitted patient data from PHIN to NHS Digital. This data will be fed onto PHIN to facilitate the publication of whole-practice performance measures for hospitals and consultants offering private healthcare services, in line with the Private Healthcare Market Investigation Order 2014.
It is envisaged that the national dataset will be made available through the NHS Digital to regulators and public bodies to assist monitoring of safety and help drive service improvement.
Jem Rashbass, Executive Director of Data Services at NHS Digital, said: “We are pleased that the Adapt programme has reached this important milestone with the launch of these pilots.
“The consultation has shown that there is a desire for a joined-up approach to data in public and private healthcare and these pilots will be the next step on achieving that.
“With the pandemic it has never been clearer how important it is to make data available across the whole healthcare sector to ensure the highest standards of care for patients and transparency across the system.”
Matt James, Chief Executive Officer of PHIN, said: “We are committed to a vision of a single system of data collection for all regulated care regardless of how it is funded or where it is provided, led by the NHS.
"This will enable better governance and regulation to ensure safer care, and better information becoming available to patients to enable informed decisions.
"These pilots are an important step, and we hope to move on quickly to full implementation.”
Nadine Dorries, Minister for patient safety, said: “I’m grateful to see lessons are being learned and acted upon following the harrowing findings of the Paterson Inquiry, with processes being put in place to improve accountability and patient safety in the independent healthcare sector.
“This pilot is an important step and will pave the way for more data sharing and transparency between the NHS and private healthcare sectors, so every patient can get safe, high quality treatment, regardless of where they are treated.”
A summary of the responses to the ADAPt consultation can be found here.
With data beginning to flow in early 2021, the ADAPt programme are seeking volunteer independent hospitals and NHS sites that offer private healthcare services to take part in the pilots. Sites that are interested in taking part can register their interests by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org