Patients undergoing operations in private hospitals may be put at risk from inadequate equipment, lack of intensive care beds, unsafe staffing arrangements, and poor medical record-keeping, according to a new report from the Centre for Health and the Public Interest (CHPI).
The report reveals that over 800 people have died unexpectedly in private hospitals in England during the last four years. Unlike in the NHS, private hospitals are not required to make data on hospital deaths publicly available, which can make it difficult for the public to understand how safe these hospitals are.
The CHPI report is the first to bring together what is known about patient safety in private hospitals in England. It found that:
The report also confirms that the NHS serves as a ‘safety net’ for the private sector. Thousands of people are regularly transferred to NHS hospitals following treatment in private hospitals, with over 2,600 emergency NHS admissions from the private sector in 2012-13.
“The report highlights some sobering examples of what can happen to patients without the right staffing, equipment and facilities,” commented report co-author Professor Brian Toft.
“When patients choose to have an operation in a private hospital they may be unaware of the difference in terms of risk between a big NHS hospital with surgical teams and intensive care beds and a private hospital with neither,” he added. “Consent forms should make clear to patients the inherent potential risks in the way these facilities are run.”
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