Quality and safety in the independent healthcare sector 2023

Non-specialist Acute Hospitals

The CQC classifies hospitals as either non-specialist or specialist. As well as rating organisations for their overall quality, the CQC rates specific core services. 

Non-specialist hospitals typically provide a range of services such as orthopaedics, general surgery, ophthalmology with some providing medical care. These are often what people picture when thinking about a typical hospital. 

449 independent non-specialist hospitals run by 219 independent sector provider groups have been rated by the CQC, compared to 285 NHS non-specialist hospitals run by 122 NHS Trusts. Of these, 411 independent sites (92%) have good or outstanding overall ratings, compared to 147 NHS hospitals (52%). 

Looking at CQC ratings of non-specialist acute hospitals since 2018 when the CQC published its analysis of the state of care in independent acute hospitals, we see a notable improvement trend among independent providers as shown below: 

This shows how the proportion of independent providers with either inadequate or requires improvement overall ratings has decreased from around 30% at the beginning of 2018 to 8% now. Conversely, the proportion of locations with good or outstanding ratings has increased from 70% to 92%. 

Over that time the number of independent sector acute non-specialist hospitals rated by the CQC has more than doubled from just over 200 to 447. 

Although many NHS trusts provide treatment to privately funded patients through their Private Patient Units, these units are not usually rated by the CQC. 

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