Private healthcare activity data sharing consultation opens

NHS England has launched a consultation to change the collection and sharing of private healthcare activity data.

The proposal is for NHS England to collect and process private healthcare hospital admitted patient care data and information about NHS funded patients, using common data standards. It means NHS funded and independent provider activity data will be available for the first time as a single data source.

It comes as a recommendation of the Paterson Inquiry, that stated: “We recommend that there should be a single repository of the whole practice of consultants across England, setting out their practicing privileges and other critical consultant performance data, for example, how many times a consultant has performed a particular procedure and how recently. This should be accessible and understandable to the public. It should be mandated for use by managers and healthcare professionals in both the NHS and independent sector.”

The latest consultation follows a previously undertaken public consultation, and input from professional bodies and health and care organisations. However, the latest consultation aims to widen the range of views and for any parties that may be affected by the proposed changes to contribute.

The proposal notes that “historically private healthcare hospital activity data have not routinely been included in many national quality and safety reporting systems” and that “there is a clear need for increased transparency and common standards between the two sectors to better support clinical safety, regulation and patient choice”.

On the overarching aims, the programme hopes to: ensure that data describing both privately funded and NHS funded healthcare is visible within all healthcare reporting systems; to promote the completeness of health records for patients whose care encompasses both NHS and private healthcare; to improve the information available to members of the public; provide greater information transparency of quality and safety in private healthcare; and to identify opportunities for reducing the costs and efforts in relation to data collection and reporting.

The proposal is for information about private healthcare hospital activity (APC) data to be reported to NHS England, as well as information about NHS funded patients, using common data standards. This dataset will include: NHS number, date of birth, postcode, consultant code (GMC number), ethnic category, diagnosis, procedures, ASA classification, body mass index, and gender/sex.

James Austin, Director of Data Strategy and Policy at NHS England, commented: “NHS data already plays an important role in how we provide high quality patient care and monitor safety reporting systems across the NHS.

“This vision of a single repository of healthcare information, combining NHS and private healthcare, will help provide better insights and lead to improved care and treatment for all patients across both the NHS and private healthcare sectors.

“Working jointly on the ADAPt programme has enabled us to see the benefits of how this might work. We’d now like to invite healthcare professionals, patient groups and individuals to share their views by responding to the consultation.”

The consultation is open until 20 April 2023. Find out more here.