Data from private healthcare providers should be shared directly with the NHS in a bid to boost patient safety, NHS Digital has suggested.
This would see the health service collect data directly from private providers through the same system used to collect NHS data, removing the need for a third party.
It comes as part of a report spurred on by the conviction of and inquiry into breast surgeon Ian Paterson, who was jailed for harming patients in both NHS and private hospitals.
Such a move would offer the NHS greater insight into the quality of treatment and care across both the NHS and private healthcare, it claimed.
Currently, private healthcare data is collected and shared with the NHS by the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN), an independent government-mandated organisation.
But a new report – led by NHS Digital and the PHIN – suggested that a number of pilot projects have successfully proven the benefits of private providers submitting that data themselves.
The additional information on private providers would allow for patient pathways to be analysed in greater detail and could be linked to other data already held by NHS Digital, including on NHS activity and mortality, it said.
The Acute Data Alignment Programme (ADAPt) – which ran the pilots – was initiated in 2018 by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt following Mr Paterson’s conviction.
The subsequent inquiry recommended the creation of a single source of information for all activity by consultants, whether it was conducted in the NHS or private sector.
Dr Jon Fistein, Chief Medical Officer at PHIN, said: ‘Patients and people considering their healthcare choices are at the centre of everything we do: from serving people in helping them making better informed choices, to supporting the NHS and private sector to better understand and improve services through the collection of data.’
The ADAPt report will launch a public consultation into its recommendations in early 2023.