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Jeremy Hunt calls on private sector to up its game on quality and safety

The Health & Social Care Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has written to Chief Executives of leading independent healthcare providers telling them urgent action is needed to ensure their standards of safety and quality match those of the NHS. 


The Health Secretary's intervention follows the publication of a recent CQC report on the state of care in the independent acute sector, which confirmed that as of January 2, 2018, 41% of independent hospitals were rated as requires improvement for safety (1% inadequate) and on the well-led criteria 30% required improvement (3% inadequate).


The letter states: "Given that the sector employs many NHS consultants who have benefited from NHS training, relies on the NHS as a safety net for emergency care and holds a number of NHS contracts, a situation where it is potentially letting down patients on safety and quality is unacceptable."


Among the concerns raised by Jeremy Hunt are:


* The need for greater transparency

* The speed with which the independent sector is moving towards alignment with NHS standards

* Fair remuneration to the NHS in cases of proven negligence from the independent sector

* The lack of escalation processes or transfer agreements

* A lack of formal governance procedures that enable private providers to avoid liability by claiming a consultant is not effectively an employee

* Greater uptake of apprenticeships


Measures that are being considered to improve this situation include taking action to ensure rapid improvement from providers assessed as offering inadequate care, stronger reporting requirements that are more comparable with those of the NHS and proposals that mean NHS organisations are better able to secure fair payment for negligence cases that more closely reflect actual costs.


Providers have been given two weeks to respond with "clear actions set out."