Following its investigation into the private healthcare market published in 2014, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found there was a lack of publicly available information on performance and fees that would allow patients to compare services and make informed choices about their treatment.
In December 2014, the CMA appointed the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) to make information on the performance of hospitals - and consultants - available via an independent public website.
Over 500 hospitals that treat patients privately, both independent hospitals and NHS private units, are required from 1 September to submit the relevant data which will enable PHIN to publish specified performance measures from 30 April 2017.
These measures will include mortality and infection rates, the number of patients readmitted to hospital or transferred to an NHS hospital following surgery, as well as measures of patient satisfaction and health improvement following treatment.
PHIN’s website will also, in due course, carry information on consultants’ fees so that patients considering private treatment will be able to compare hospitals and consultants on a range of quality measures, and compare prices.
Although PHIN anticipates that most larger providers of private care, representing around 80% of private treatment across the UK, are going to meet the requirement, the CMA is reminding those that don’t that they are required to do so by a legally binding Order.
“This data will help provide essential information on performance and quality which patients are entitled to expect.
Roger Witcomb, Chairman of the CMA’s private healthcare investigation, said:
“Whilst we’re pleased that the response from private healthcare providers has been largely positive, we’d remind those lagging behind that this is a legal requirement and, along with PHIN, we will be following up to ensure compliance with the requirements.
“Greater information on the performance of hospital operators and consultants, and later on consultants’ fees will help patients to be more active in making the right choice for them of where and by whom to be treated. This will help drive care providers to compete on the things that matter to patients.”
Matt James from the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) said:
“The CMA’s requirements essentially bring private healthcare into line with NHS information processes to enable fair comparison. Hospitals have faced a huge task to implement new data collection processes, and in general the response has been very positive and deserves recognition.
“Some organisations have not yet responded and no hospital’s data will be perfect, so we will work with both hospitals and the CMA to improve completeness in the coming months.”