• The Benenden Hospital Trust rated outstanding by the CQC
  • About a fifth of its activity is for the NHS
  • CQC praised its staff satisfaction levels, recovery pathways and infection control but raised concerns over admission and theatre schedules


The Care Quality Commission has rated Benenden Hospital, an independent provider of elective care to the NHS, as outstanding, following an inspection in January this year.

The CQC rated the hospital, operated by The Benenden Hospital Trust, as outstanding overall as well as in the categories well-led, responsive and caring. It rated it good for safety and effectiveness.

A spokeswoman for the hospital - which is in Kent - confirmed that as of the start of 2017, 22 per cent of all of its activity has been commissioned by the NHS. The rest of its provision is to those enrolled in Benenden’s insurance scheme or to private-payers.

It is a provider of elective care, primarily orthopaedics and cataract surgeries; as well as ENT, gynaecology and general surgery.

Benenden hospital is the ninth independent provider of acute care to receive an outstanding CQC rating, although not all the others will have similar levels of NHS activity. Overall 168 independent acute providers have now been rated by the CQC, with 105 rated good overall, 51 requiring improvement and three rated inadequate.

The regulator singled out Benenden’s treatment of staff for praise, with inspectors finding “high levels of staff satisfaction across all staff groups” and “strong collaboration” across staff teams to provide the best care for patients. It reported that staff were “encouraged” to be open and transparent about any safety concerns and that 100 per cent of staff had up to date appraisals and appropriate medical revalidation.

The CQC was also impressed by the provider’s enhanced recovery pathways to reduce the length of hospital stay for orthopaedic patients, the leadership focus on prevention control and the provider’s ability to appropriately care for people with dementia or learning disabilities.

However, it raised concerns over the scheduling of admissions and surgery. It found that all patients were admitted at the same time regardless of their place on the operating list meaning some faced long waits on wards “when they could have been at home”.

The regulator was also concerned about the hospital’s reliance on consultant availability to schedule operating lists. This meant “the hospital frequently converted day case patients to overnight stays” as they were operated on too late in the day to be fit for discharge on the same day.

The hospital predominantly specialises in orthopaedic, gynaecology and opthalmology surgery for adults only, with some outpatient and digital imagery work also carried out. The most common operation in the year prior to September 2016 was cataract procedures, which represented 24 per cent of surgical activity. The second and third most common procedures were varicose vein removal and knee arthroscopy.

The spokeswoman told HSJ: ”Our NHS activity is predominantly adult elective surgery and some diagnostics” with most of its “NHS activity coming from orthopaedics and cataracts surgeries, followed by ENT, gynaecology and general surgery”.