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New data reveals serious patient safety incidents in private acute care

21 Never Events involving insured or self-pay patients were reported in 2019
London, 2 September, 2020: Today the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) published new information about serious patient safety incidents for private acute care. This is the first time that a comprehensive dataset of Never Events – serious patient safety incidents, involving privately funded patients has been published in the UK.

With this information patients can now get a clearer understanding of the care provided at over 287 independent hospitals and NHS Private Patient Units offering acute private treatments, who between them account for an estimated 86% of privately funded admitted patient care.

The data, covering the period 1 January 2019 to the 31 December 2019, show that 21 Never Events involving non-NHS (insured or self-pay) patients were reported. A table of events is listed below:
Type of incident Number of events
Wrong site surgery
Wrong implant/prosthesis
Retained foreign object post procedure
Mis-selection of a strong potassium solution
Administration of medication by the wrong route

This adds to the wealth of information already published about serious incidents involving NHS patients, which is routinely collected and published when they receive NHS funded care in a NHS or independent hospital. To assist public bodies, researchers, clinicians and hospitals better understand and analyse services to private patients in the UK, PHIN has also published a downloadable version of this dataset. [1]

Dr Andrew Vallance-Owen, Chair of PHIN, said:  
“The publication of these Never Events is an important step-change in transparency. This will be helpful for patients when deciding the right provider for their care, but it is also important that the information is available to hospitals, consultants and others within the sector. 

Never Events have to be reported so that lessons are learnt and actions taken to ensure they cannot happen again. This means that the reporting, investigation and learning is a powerful safety ‘call to action' in itself and should always lead to an improvement in processes and quality of care as a result. 

We hope publication of this information will stimulate that process of continuous improvement.” 

To help patients and people considering which healthcare provider is right for them, PHIN has produced a short guide and explainer video. [2]

The publication of this information follows a 2014 investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which found there was a lack of information about quality, safety and price for patients considering private treatment in the UK. [3] 

Notes to editors: 
[1] The downloadable view of this dataset, along with explanations and methods, is available here.  
[2] PHIN has produced a guide and short video which explains Never Events for patients visiting PHIN’s website. This is available here.  
[3] The Private Healthcare Market Investigation Order (as amended) can be read here.