NHS Digital and the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) have begun the testing phase of a programme that will see data on privately funded care from independent hospitals collected by NHS England for the first time.
If successful, the pilot will pave the way for a comprehensive national dataset of public and private hospital data in England, facilitating the production of 'whole-practice' information for doctors and hospitals providing both NHS and private care.
NHS Digital said the need for such information was highlighted by the Independent Inquiry into rogue breast surgeon Ian Paterson, who provided unsanctioned and unnecessary treatment to patients in both NHS and private hospitals.
The pilots are part of the Acute Data Alignment Programme (ADAPt), initiated by the Secretary of State for Health in 2018, and led jointly by NHS Digital and PHIN.
It is envisaged that the national dataset will be made available through the NHS Digital to regulators and public bodies to assist monitoring of safety and help drive service improvement.
Jem Rashbass, Executive Director of Data Services at NHS Digital, said: "We are pleased that the Adapt programme has reached this important milestone with the launch of these pilots."
"The consultation has shown that there is a desire for a joined-up approach to data in public and private healthcare and these pilots will be the next step on achieving that."
"With the pandemic it has never been clearer how important it is to make data available across the whole healthcare sector to ensure the highest standards of care for patients and transparency across the system."
The ADAPt programme is now seeking volunteer independent hospitals and NHS sites that offer private health care services to take part in the pilots. Sites that are interested in taking part should email [email protected].