Independent hospitals making progress on quality agenda

Independent sector hospitals are making progress on questions of quality, says the CQC

The Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN) has welcomed the CQC’s latest State of Care report, which shows continuing improvement in the quality of care provided by independent sector hospitals.

Over 80% of independent sector acute hospitals were rated either good or outstanding in 2018/19 compared to 78% in 2017/18. Despite a small increase in the number of independent hospitals rated inadequate – from two to three facilities – the proportion rated requires improvement fell from 22% in 2017/18 to 17% this time around.

The sector made significant progress on the well-led key question, where 79% were rated good or outstanding compared to 73% last year. However, despite continued headway on the safety question, this remained the area of most concern for the regulator – both in the NHS and independent sector.

On the key question of ‘are services safe?’, 28% of independent sector hospitals were rated inadequate or requires improvement in 2018/19 compared to 33% the previous year. Despite improvements, the percentage of NHS acute hospitals rated inadequate or requires improvement on the safety question was even higher at 39%.

The report, which assesses the state of health and social care across services in England, said that while progress was being made on the quality and integration agendas, NHS hospitals continue to face rising demand, recruitment difficulties and financial problems.

‘Access to the right care at the right time is one of the biggest challenges facing health and social care services, and particularly those seeking treatment in NHS acute hospitals. Urgent and emergency services continue to bear the brunt of increasing demand. Figures for emergency admissions after attending the emergency department are continuing to rise year-on-year,’ said the report.

Commenting on the findings, IHPN CEO David Hare said: ‘The CQC is also right to highlight the ever-worsening access to NHS care across the board, meaning that patients are unable to receive appropriate care at the right time and in the right setting. Ahead of what is likely to be one of the toughest winters on record for the NHS, it is therefore vital that independent sector providers delivering primary, community, diagnostic and acute care are fully integrated into local system planning to ensure that all available resources are utilised so that NHS patients can access safe, timely and high quality care, free at the point of use.’