In this BMJ Opinion article, David Rowland from the Centre for Health and the Public Interest discusses why he thinks the Independent Inquiry into the issues raised by Paterson is yet another missed opportunity to tackle the systemic patient safety risks which lie at the heart of the private hospital business model.
David believes that although the Inquiry provided an important opportunity for the hundreds of patients affected to bear witness to the pain and harm inflicted upon them it fundamentally failed as an exercise in root cause analysis.
None of the “learning points” in the final report touch on the financial incentives which may have led Paterson to deliberately over treat patients. Nor do they cover the business reasons which might encourage a private hospital’s management not to look too closely. Yet these concerns about how the private hospital system works and the associated patient risks it produces had been established in a number of previous inquiries.
He suggests that the Inquiry report threw the responsibility for managing patient safety risks back to the patients themselves in two of its main recommendations but that it should be for the healthcare provider first and foremost to ensure that the professions that they employ are safe, competent and properly supervised, and for this form of assurance to be underpinned by a well-functioning system of licensing and revalidation by national regulatory bodies.