Patient safety remains the number one priority for independent healthcare providers, and IHPN are delighted to mark the third ever World Patient Safety Day – set up by the World Health Organisation to bring about global solidarity and concerted action to improve patient safety.
Over the past few years the entire healthcare sector has seen a change in the approach and understanding of patient safety, with safety experts from across different industries coming together in the interests of patients and reduce harms. Effective communication – be that the art of listening to colleagues, leaders, patients, their relatives/carers or other services – or the ability to speak up and be heard is at the heart of safety.
Moreover, in response to the coronavirus pandemic we have seen providers across the whole healthcare system work together in the interests of safety. Indeed, in the past year, all healthcare providers, including in the independent sector, have had to grapple with a whole new set of patient safety challenges. This includes everything from stringent new infection prevention and control measures, the move to digital consultations and their implications for governance and consent, managing issues around staff burnout and, perhaps most importantly, urging patients to seek the urgent care and treatment they need during the pandemic (notably through the NHS’ Help Us Help You campaign).
These challenges look likely to continue in the near future, but looking forward beyond the pandemic, for the independent health sector are continuing to drive continuous improvements in the safety of care they deliver.
Currently over 83% of independent sector hospitals are rated good or outstanding by the Care Quality Commission – rising from 70% just a few years ago and which compares favourably with the wider healthcare system. Indeed, the sector also rates highly across a number of other metrics, including PROMS (Patient Recorded Outcomes Measures) where seven of the top ten hospitals are independent. And in the past year alone, there were almost 60,000 independent hospital submissions to the National Joint Registry which helps drive up clinical standards, representing 47% of total submissions – a fantastic achievement.
Indeed, the sector has strong aspirations for patient safety, and here at IHPN we are driving forward a programme of work to further ensure that all patients being treated in independent healthcare providers are accessing the safest possible care. As part of this, IHPN were pleased to host our second ever “safety through regulation” conference earlier on in the summer which looked at an array of issues around safety and quality improvement including “Strengthening medical governance and assurance”, “Talking duty of candour” and “Building on audit and outcomes”, and where we were delighted to be joined by the outgoing CQC Chief Inspector of Hospitals Prof Ted Baker.
Following the publication of our “Medical Practitioners Assurance Framework” (led by former NHS National Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh) in autumn 2019, we are continuing to ensure its effective implementation across the whole of the independent healthcare sector so that both the NHS and independent sector can work hand in hand to deliver the best possible care for patients. And building on our animation with the Patients Association from early 2020 on “what to expect from independent healthcare”, we will be developing further resources for patients on independent healthcare and ensuring they are fully equipped to make the best possible decisions for them – a key part of the patient safety puzzle.
As the phrase (almost) goes, patient safety is for life, not just for World Patient Safety Day. And working together across the health system – actively listening and responding to safety conversations, creating a just and open culture with learning and continuous improvement at the heart – we can continue to improve the care to our patients, regardless of who provides their care. Independent healthcare providers are committed to playing our role in this agenda – building on the outstanding care we know is already delivered and sharing best practice to ensure ever more patients can benefit.
Dawn Hodgkins, Director of Regulation, IHPN