Four private health insurance companies have signed an agreement with the Care Quality Commission to share more data about the quality and safety of independent hospitals, it has emerged.

The memorandum of understanding with the regulator has been signed by Axa, Bupa, Aviva and Vitality.

It will allow the CQC to monitor the safety of care in private hospitals, many of which also treat NHS funded patients.

In recent months the safety of care by the private sector has come under scrutiny with health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt demanding the sector “get its house in order on safety and quality”.

His letter followed a CQC report saying it had major concerns about safety in some private hospitals where an estimated 500,000 NHS funded patients are treated each year.

The CQC published the agreement on its website earlier this month, it has emerged. The CQC said on its website that the companies had data about the quality of care delivered by providers they used, which would be shared with the regulator.

This includes patient experience data, safety risks and thematic concerns across multiple sites, outcomes from insurer visits and records of poor care or outcomes for some patients.

The information sharing agreement will also cover information about good practice and improvements in care.

The CQC said: “These agreements represent a public commitment from the health insurers to share information with us about the quality and safety of independent healthcare services.

“We will use this information to improve how it monitors quality and safety in these services, as part of maintaining an effective regulatory system, to ensure people are provided with safe, effective, compassionate, high quality care.”