The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) is calling for private hospitals to reveal details of ‘botched’ operations so that ‘rogue’ surgeons can be identified.
In a letter to the government, the RCS said private hospitals should be obliged to release data on serious injuries, unexpected deaths and serious preventable incidents, or so-called ‘never events’.
The call follows the scandal involving Birmingham-based surgeon Ian Paterson, who was convicted in April 2017 for performing unnecessary and dangerous breast operations on 10 patients.
The RCS say that while safety standards in the NHS have improved since Paterson’s suspension in 2012, private surgeons are not put under the same scrutiny.
The letter from the RCS calls for a national review of safety in the private sector, suggesting that the Paterson case proves ‘malicious behaviour’ can still take place. The review would aim to find out ‘why he was able to cause so much harm for so long and what can be done to minimize the risks of similar incidents in the future’.
Currently, data from private hospitals only has to be disclosed to the Care Quality Commission (CQC), not to the general public or for the purpose of analysis. The College would like the sector to be held to the same rules as the NHS regarding data release.
Speaking to the Telegraph, RCS President, Clare Marx, said: ‘Ian Paterson wilfully abused the trust placed in him by patients at their most vulnerable […] we must do everything in our power to prevent such a violation being repeated.’
She added: ‘Patient safety initiatives have tended to concentrate on the NHS but we also need a strong focus on the private sector, particularly in the collection and publication of patient safety data in private hospitals.’
Fiona Booth, Chief Executive of the Association of Independent Healthcare Organisations (AIHO), said: ‘The independent sector is already regulated and inspected by the CQC in the same way as NHS hospitals to ensure patient safety and a high quality of care is delivered.
‘AIHO are working with national bodies to look at ways in which the sector can be further involved in the collection of best data on clinical standards.’