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Found 209 results
  1. News Article
    NHS England will begin monitoring and benchmarking systems on the extent to which patients are given the option to be treated by a private provider. The move follows the government today endorsing the recommendations of a review by the chair of the newly created Independent Patient Choice and Procurement Panel, which has highlighted how some local areas are restricting patient choice. It highlighted significant variation in choice between some systems, which it said was driven by factors including messaging from commissioners to GPs that discourages choice and/or encourages referrals to local NHS trusts, financial incentives for referrals to particular providers and difficulties in securing accreditation from commissioners. It cited one example where the operator of an independent sector hospital that is co-located with an NHS hospital was contractually prevented by the NHS trust from accepting certain referrals. Health and social care secretary Victoria Atkins said: “Empowering patients to take control of their own healthcare decisions is a key part of my missions to make the NHS faster, simpler and fairer for everyone that uses it.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 15 May 2024
  2. News Article
    A health system has stopped sending mental health patients to the country’s largest single provider of out-of-area placements. Southern Hill Hospital in Norfolk provided more than 18,000 bed days classed as OAPs for NHS patients last year, with Greater Manchester Integrated Care System (GM) being the main contributor to that total. However, HSJ has learned that GM’s integrated care board and mental health providers have decided not to send any more patients to the provider. The move comes after a recent visit to and review of the service at Southern Hill by GM commissioners. This, in turn, followed concerns about the “co-ordination” of patient care at Southern Hill received by GM. The exact nature of the concerns is unclear, and the ICB said in a statement “no significant safety or quality concerns were found and feedback from patients was positive,” when it carried out its review. The ICB said the decision to cease placements at Southern Hill shortly after the concerns were raised was a coincidence, and that the move was part of its strategy to reduce OAPs. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 2 May 2024
  3. News Article
    Britain’s health cover market has grown by £385m in a year as the NHS crisis prompted more people to seek out private medical treatment and demand for dental insurance increased, according to a report. The total health cover market, including medical and dental insurance and cash plans, grew 6.1% to £6.7bn in 2022, the latest year for which figures are available, according to the health data provider LaingBuisson. About 4.2 million people were subscribed to medical cover schemes. Including dependants on the policies, 7.3 million people were covered – the highest number since 2008. The NHS waiting list in England continued to lengthen, to a peak of nearly 7.8m last September. In February, it was still 7.5m and half of the patients had been waiting for 18 weeks or longer. Private medical insurance, the largest part of the health cover market, grew by 6% year on year in 2022 to £5.3bn, more than triple the average annual growth rate of 1.8% between 2008 and 2019. After a decade of decline until 2018, more people signed up, particularly in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic which led to a backlog of major procedures such as hip and knee replacements. Tim Read, author of the report, said: “Demand began to increase in 2018, as the NHS waiting list began to rise out of control. A new Labour government is likely to aim to tackle it but will have limited fiscal headroom to make substantial progress. “With people still struggling to access NHS services and the waiting list remaining stubbornly high, there is little likelihood that demand for health insurance is going to fall any time soon.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 18 April 2024
  4. Content Article
    Panorama investigates a private hospital chain being used to help clear the NHS waiting list. With more than six million people in England alone waiting for an operation on the NHS, Monika Plaha investigates the safety record of one of the UK's biggest private healthcare providers.
  5. News Article
    A woman died when a major private healthcare provider failed to transfer her to NHS intensive care quickly enough after she became critically ill. Sabrina Khan said Spire Healthcare staff "should have known something was wrong" with her mother, Nafisa. The BBC also obtained testimony from doctors - contracted by the company to work up to 168 hours a week - who say long hours could put patients at risk. Spire Healthcare has apologised for failings in Nafisa Khan's care. The death of Mrs Khan from east London is one of several deaths following surgery at Spire Healthcare, looked at by BBC Panorama. Read full story Source: BBC News, 8 April 2024
  6. News Article
    A new private ambulance service will offer faster travel to A&E for those caught out by half-day waits for NHS ambulances, The Independent can reveal, in a sign of a growing “two-tier” health service. MET Medical ambulance service will begin by charging £99 for a call-out, and could serve thousands of people a week, its chief executive Dave Hawkins has said. Mr Hawkins, who is a paramedic himself, said he launched the service after seeing his elderly relatives wait too long for NHS ambulance services following falls. It comes as waiting times for ambulance service reached a crisis point in the last year, with frail and vulnerable people waiting hours for an ambulance. Ambulance response times hit record highs over 2022-23, with people who should have an ambulance within 20 minutes waiting an hour and 30 minutes in December 2023. According to estimates from the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, 34,000 patients were likely to have suffered harm due to these delays – this hit a high of more than 60,000 in December 2022. MET Medical will still have to wait to deliver patients if they are seen as a priority, but it said its patients are likely to be lower priority and can be dropped at A&E without waiting for a handover. Mr Hawkins said vulnerable patients waiting for an ambulance can wait up to 12 hours. “It’s that moment when you’re out of options, it’s really a horrible place to be, particularly if it’s a loved one … It is a shame, like we’ve seen from the stats and everything, that the health service is failing us." Read full story Source: The Independent, 3 April 2024
  7. News Article
    Experts and patient groups have warned that the high cost of private Covid vaccinations could exacerbate health inequalities and leave those more at risk from the virus without a vital line of defence. Both high street chain Boots and pharmacies that partner with the company Pharmadoctor are now offering Covid jabs to those not eligible for a free vaccination through the NHS, with the former charging almost £100 for the Pfizer/BioNTech jab. While Pharmadoctor says each pharmacy sets its own prices, it suggests the Pfizer/BioNTech jab will set customers back £75-£85, while the latest Novavax jab will cost about £45-£55. However experts have raised concerns that the high cost of the private jabs will widen inequalities, with the vaccinations unaffordable for many. “The most disadvantaged in society are most likely to be exposed to respiratory viruses due to things like poverty, intergenerational households and crowded workplaces. While they might be most in need of a seasonal vaccine, they will also be the least likely to afford £100 in the midst of a cost of living crisis,” said Dr Marija Pantelic, of the University of Sussex. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 28 March 2024
  8. News Article
    Women who freeze their eggs are being misled by some UK clinics about their chances of having a baby, a fertility charity says. The Fertility Network was reacting to BBC analysis that found 41% of clinics offering the service privately could be breaching advertising guidance. The watchdog which sets guidance says clinics "must not give false or misleading information". It comes as a record number of people are freezing their eggs. The UK fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), also said it was concerned about the information given to those considering egg freezing. A successful pregnancy is not guaranteed by the procedure. Egg freezing for non-medical reasons, also known as social egg freezing, is an increasingly popular method for women to preserve their fertility in order to have children at a later date. Read full story Source: BBC News, 13 March 2024
  9. News Article
    Private hospitals are caring for a record number of patients paying through their own savings or private medical insurance, according to figures from the Private Healthcare Information Network. Helen, a semi-retired frontline worker in south-east England, spent nearly £50,000 of her retirement savings on major spinal surgery to get her life back after two years of debilitating pain. Helen, 56, began experiencing extreme lower back pain and leg pain in September 2021, triggered by a dog colliding with her leg in the park. Though it was not caused by the trigger, she was diagnosed by the NHS with spondylosis in November 2021, and then a pars defect (a condition affecting the lower spine), and offered scans and physiotherapy. She said six months of physiotherapy, beginning in early 2022, resulted in no improvement, and she was offered pain management and a steroid epidural, which she said also did not help. “I rarely ventured out in these two years … due to the extreme pain I was in when sitting, standing or walking. Life effectively stopped in 2021,” she said. Desperate, she booked a consultation in May 2023 with a neurosurgeon and was told she needed an operation. Helen asked whether it would be possible for the neurosurgeon, who also works within the NHS, to do it on the NHS rather than privately. A referral could be made, she was told – but the surgery was likely to involve a waiting time of 18 months to two years. “My husband and I discussed it, and he said: you’ve already had no life for the last two years, do you really want to wait another two?” She had the spinal surgery in August 2023 and is now managing her pain with over-the-counter medication, rather than the stronger painkillers she was on before. It cost her a staggering £48,345. The financial hit has been huge. “I was absolutely gutted to have to go private. This has knocked us both; we didn’t see us in our lives having to pay for something like this. We’ve managed our finances carefully and always saved where we can. But that lump sum [that we] can access when we retire … That lump sum has just gone now.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 8 March 2024
  10. News Article
    The Priory healthcare group has been fined more than £650,000 over the death of a 23-year-old patient who was hit by a train after absconding from a mental health hospital. Matthew Caseby, a personal trainer, was able to leave Birmingham’s Priory hospital Woodbourne by scaling a wall after being “inappropriately unattended” for several minutes in September 2020, an inquest jury ruled in 2022. The healthcare company pleaded guilty to a criminal safety failing linked to the death of a patient, breaching the 2008 Health and Social Care Act, at Birmingham magistrates court on Friday. The London-based provider was charged after an investigation into the death of Caseby conducted by the Care Quality Commission. Caseby’s father, Richard Caseby, who had been campaigning for a prosecution of the healthcare organisation, told the court the company attempted to “evade accountability for its gross failures”. In a victim impact statement which he presented as part of the prosecution on Friday, he said: “I found it unbelievable that a private company commissioned by the NHS to care for its most vulnerable psychiatric patients in the greatest crisis of their lives could be so cruel and resort to such desperate tactics to hide the truth.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 8 March 2024
  11. Content Article
    In this interview, Professor Martin Marshall, former GP and Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, shares his concerns for the future of general practice in the UK. He outlines the danger that more of the workforce will turn to private practice due to current pressures facing NHS GPs.
  12. Content Article
    As the Cumberlege Review and Paterson Inquiry made clear, having accurate and timely data on treatments and outcomes is critical to patient safety. NHS England is working to strengthen this data by implementing a central database to collect key details of implantable devices at the time of operation. The new Outcomes and Registry Platform will bring existing registries together for the first time and introduce new registries. In a blog for the Patient Safety Commissioner website, Scott Pryde, Programme Director for NHS England’s Outcomes and Registries Programme, and Katherine Wilson, Clinical Steering Group Chair of the programme, discuss the new National Registry of Hearing Implants, a registry specifically for cochlear implants. They highlight the importance of collaboration between patients, clinicians, regulators and medical device manufacturers.
  13. Content Article
    New research shows that more independent hospitals are rated as “good” or “outstanding” than ever before, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic and the subsequent period of health system recovery.  The Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN) conducted a national review of quality and safety data across the sector, looking at a broad range of datasets to evaluate quality and safety in key areas, analysing data from the Care Quality Commission (CQC). 
  14. News Article
    Nearly 1.7 million Texans have lost their health insurance — the largest number of people any state has removed — in the months since Texas began peeling people from Medicaid as part of the post-pandemic “unwinding.” Around 65% of these removals occurred because of procedural reasons, according to the state. Texas’ Health and Human Services Commission has neared the end of a chaotic and overburdened process to remove people from state Medicaid insurance who became ineligible during the coronavirus pandemic. The state had not unenrolled people before this year because of federal pandemic rules, which forbid states from cutting coverage. As a result, more than 5 million Texans had continuous access to healthcare throughout the pandemic through Medicaid, the joint federal-and-state-funded insurance program for low-income individuals. In Texas, the program’s eligibility criteria is so restrictive, it mainly covers poor children, their mothers while pregnant and post partum, and disabled and senior adults. But the effects of speedrunning this process have reverberated: Still-eligible Texans were kicked off both in error and for procedural reasons, adding to backlogs of hundreds of thousands of Medicaid applications and pushing wait times back several months. “The state handled this with an incredible amount of incompetence and indifference to poor people,” U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, told The Texas Tribune. “It's really appalling.” Read full story Source: The Texas Tribune, 14 December 2023
  15. Content Article
    Hearing and listening to patients is at the centre of patient safety. As healthcare services in England work to bring to reality the transformation sought in the NHS Patient Safety Strategy (July 2019), independent sector providers have the challenge of ensuring that they too provide an equal opportunity for private patients' voices to be heard. Taking complaints seriously, having robust processes and learning from them is integral to this, as ISCAS Director Sally Taber explains in her blog. 
  16. News Article
    Private hospitals saw record admissions this year after hundreds of thousands of people sought care through their insurance amid rocketing NHS waiting lists, new figures show. Between January and June 443,000 private treatments took place – a 7% rise from 2022, the vast majority of which were claimed through medical insurance policies. According to the Private Hospital Information Network (PHIN), which collects data from hospitals in the sector, there was a 12% increase in the number of people paying for care via insurance with 157,000 people using this route from January to March and 148,000 from April to June this year. The news comes as the NHS’s waiting list continues to grow with almost 7.8 million appointments recorded. Recently published data shows that there is a total of 6.5 million individual people on the waiting list. Read full story Source: The Independent, 7 December 2023
  17. Content Article
    The NHS’s deal with the US tech company Palantir raises privacy concerns, but a unified database could be a medical gamechanger writes Martha Gill in an article for the Observer. Governments have been trying to stitch together our patchwork system for decades. Billions have been lost in these attempts. However, they always run up against the same problem: people just don’t want to share their medical data, even when assured it will be anonymised. When the government aimed to build a collection of anonymous GP health records, around a million patients opted out. The latest of these attempts has closed a loophole: patients cannot now opt out. But this has enraged civil liberties groups, which are concerned about the company chosen to merge, clean and provide tools for sorting through the data.
  18. Content Article
    How would you feel if your doctor offered you a treatment your health condition with good results and very little risk? You might snap it up. But what if you subsequently found out your doctor took thousands of pounds from the treatment makers to write a scientific paper promoting it, attend an all-expenses paid conference to talk about it, or spent time working as their expert consultant? In America, industry must log payments which are published on the open database system. Reporting to this is backed up by law following the American Sunshine Payment Act (2013). Sling the Mesh is calling for similar legislation in the UK to provide up-to-date evidence on industry money exchanging hands we Kath Sansom discusses in a blog on the Patient Safety Commissioner website.
  19. Content Article
    In her latest blog, Patient Safety Commissioner Henrietta Hughes discusses MHRA's Yellow Card reporting system and why, until we have mandatory reporting, including for devices that are working as designed, we will continue to see avoidable harm occurring to patients. She stresses that it is vital that the voices and views of patients, clinicians, manufacturer, and health providers participate in the design and delivery of devices. 
  20. News Article
    Engaging the private sector in delivering health care and goods requires a sound understanding of how to align resources with the strategic priorities of a health system. The WHO Regional Office for Europe and the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies have released a new report for policy-makers that analyses governance evidence from the COVID-19 pandemic. “The question is not whether we should do it, but what we can do to do it well,” explained Dimitra Panteli, programme manager at the Observatory, who presented the policy brief during a WHO-hosted launch session at the European Public Health (EPH) Conference in Dublin. Having played a key part in the COVID-19 pandemic, the private sector showed that it holds resources and expertise that can enhance the delivery of health goods and services and help achieve Universal Health Coverage. It also has a wider role in the maintenance of essential health services and in ensuring health system resilience. “We cannot have the illusion that we should not work with the private sector, especially as health services struggle to cope with backlogs caused by the pandemic,” pointed out Natasha Azzopardi Muscat, Director of Country Health Policies and Systems at WHO/Europe. This collaboration can however present challenges, for example around governance practices. Policy successes and failures during the pandemic provide lessons for countries on how to engage the private sector in their health systems effectively. Read full story Source: European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, 20 November 2023
  21. News Article
    The NHS has sparked controversy by handing the US spy tech company Palantir a £330m contract to create a huge new data platform, leading to privacy concerns around patients’ medical details. The move immediately prompted concerns about the security and privacy of patient medical records and the suitability of Palantir to be given access to and oversight of such sensitive material. NHS England has given Palantir and four partners including Accenture a five-year contract to set up and operate the “federated data platform” (FDP). The British Medical Association, which had previously voiced concern about the NHS’s alleged lack of scrutiny of bidders on “ethical” grounds, said Palantir’s winning bid was “deeply worrying”. NHS England sought to allay such concerns. It stressed that none of the companies in the winning consortium would be able to access health and care data without its explicit consent; that it would retain control of all data within the platform; and that it would not include GP data. It said the new software would be protected by the highest possible standards of security through the deployment of “privacy enhancing technology”. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 21 November 2023
  22. News Article
    Private healthcare companies are harming NHS patients in their own homes by failing to deliver vital medicines, and then escaping censure amid an alarming lack of oversight by ministers and regulators, members of the House of Lords have warned. More than 500,000 patients and their families rely on private companies paid by the NHS to deliver essential medical supplies, drugs and healthcare to their homes. The homecare medicines services sector is estimated to be worth billions of pounds. A report by the Lords public services committee says patients are being harmed due to “real and serious problems” with the services provided by for-profit companies. The absence of a single person or organisation with overall control or oversight of the sector means poor performance is going unchecked, it says. “There are serious problems with the way services are provided,” the Lords report says. “Some patients are experiencing delays, receiving the wrong medicine or not being taught how to administer their medicine. [This] can have serious impacts on patients’ health, sometimes requiring hospital care. This leaves NHS staff either firefighting the problems caused by problems in homecare medicines services, or working on the assumption that those services will fail.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 16 November 2023
  23. Content Article
    Homecare medicines services deliver medicines and provide medicine-related care to patients in their homes, for example, teaching them to self-inject, and delivering medicine that might need special transport. In this report, the House of Lords Public Services Committee highlights concerns about multiple reports of delays and errors by homecare providers, resulting in patients receiving care later than scheduled. The report states that this key service is not working the way it should and, in some cases, is causing patients serious harm.
  24. Content Article
    Christina Ruse was admitted to the Spire Hospital on 14 December 2021 and underwent a total left hip replacement. Her condition deteriorated and observations were commenced at five minute intervals. Mrs Ruse was reviewed and on further deterioration in her condition it was decided to transfer her to the High Dependency Unit, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. On arrival of the ambulance Mrs Ruse was undergoing a further investigatory procedure. On this being completed Mrs Ruse was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, where her condition continued to deteriorate and she died on 15 December 2021.
  25. Content Article
    Barbara Hollis underwent a total left knee replacement operation on 22 February 2022. The surgery was uneventful with no complications, however after her return to the ward Mrs Hollis became restless and confused. Following a review of her deteriorating condition the decision was made to transfer her to the High Dependency Unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Arrangements were made for the transfer and the ambulance service was called at 19.51 and were told that immediate clinical intervention was needed, but the agreed hospital to hospital transfer pathway was not followed. There was a two hour delay in ambulance attendance, during which time Mrs Hollis continued to deteriorate. Mrs Hollis was subsequently taken to the High Dependency Unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital where her condition continued to deteriorate and she died in the early hours of the 23 February 2022.
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