• New patient safety database set to cover both NHS and private care
  • Paterson Inquiry called for database after rogue surgeon carried out unnecessary surgery across NHS and private practice 
  • Data system changes “could take up to five years to implement”, HSJ told

Plans have been unveiled for a single database for patient safety data across the NHS and private sector.

NHS Digital and the Private Healthcare Information Network — a government-mandated and not-for-profit organisation which collates information about private healthcare — have launched a six-week consultation on the proposed online database, which would bring together consultants’ performance data across both sectors.

Under the changes proposed in the acute data alignment programme — known as ADAPt — PHIN would share its national dataset of private patient care with NHS Digital, creating a single source of healthcare data in England which will record activity, quality and risk in a consistent way.

NHS Digital would also pilot collecting data directly from independent providers on privately funded care within its secondary uses service — which holds anonymised reports and statistics on patient records to support research, planning and service delivery — to reduce the administrative burden on hospitals and to share this information with PHIN.

The recent inquiry into disgraced surgeon Ian Paterson recommended setting up a single data repository, setting out consultants’ performance data and practising privileges in both NHS and private healthcare.

PHIN chief executive Matt James told HSJ he expects it would take between three and five years to implement the new data system.

He said: “Having the information in one place will make private healthcare more visible to regulators and clinical governance professionals.

“The Paterson Inquiry has rightly recognised that having joined up information that follows patients across both private and NHS care is vital.

“The more we can do to join data on private and NHS care together, the more we can improve patient safety.”

The consultation, which ends on 31 March, will be hosted on the NHS Digital Consultation Hub and will seek the views of private and NHS providers, clinicians, the public and other organisations with an interest in private healthcare.

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: “Regardless of where you’re treated or how your care is funded, everybody deserves safe, compassionate care.

“The recent Paterson Inquiry highlighted the shocking failures that can occur when information is not shared and acted upon in both the NHS and independent sector.

“We are working tirelessly across the health system to deliver the highest standards of care for patients. Trusted data is absolutely critical to this mission and the ADAPt programme will help improve transparency and raise standards for all.”