Back to press releases

PHIN statement on data standards following BBC Panorama investigation

Responding to the BBC Panorama investigation into quality, standards and information on private healthcare in the UK, and the Royal College of Surgeons’ related statement on availability of information, the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN), has released the following statement:

There is an absolute need for greater transparency and better reporting mechanisms in private healthcare in the UK, and the Private Healthcare Information Network has taken on the challenge of driving that improvement. Data is a powerful tool for understanding and improving clinical care, and patients must be given full and fair information when they are deciding on care options.

There should clearly be a single standard for information production and reporting for healthcare delivered in England, regardless of the source of funding.

Unfortunately private healthcare has been almost wholly excluded from national policy thinking for many years, and as such has not been included within NHS information systems, as the Royal College of Surgeons has observed. That divide makes no sense at all when we consider that 95% of patients treated privately for planned surgery are NHS patients for most other elements of their care; that the majority of consultants who practice privately also work in the NHS; and that independent hospitals increasingly treat patients for the NHS while NHS hospitals increasingly offer private treatment.

The Care Quality Commission has made excellent progress in unifying standards of regulation across both sectors, but the lack of comparable data remains an issue.

The Private Healthcare Information Network is attempting to bring reporting standard​s in private healthcare into line with those in the NHS, under the mandate of the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA), which recognised this problem in 2014. However, we believe that a more comprehensive solution is required, and we call on the Department of Health to consider how this can best be addressed as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, the Private Healthcare Information Network urges all hospitals and consultants offering private care, including NHS hospitals, to fully utilise the mechanisms that are already available, including submitting data required by the CMA. For this reason, we wholeheartedly welcome the call from the Royal College of Surgeons to their members to improve and support the collection and publication of quality and outcomes’ data in the private sector.

Matt James
Chief executive
The Private Healthcare Information Network

Dr Andrew Vallance-Owen
The Private Healthcare Information Network