Independent providers to share information on clinicians with the NHS

Independent sector healthcare providers will share information with the NHS when concerns are raised about individual clinician’s medical practices as part of a new system-wide approach to patient safety developed by former NHS national medical director Sir Bruce Keogh.

The new Medical Practitioners Assurance Framework, launched today by the Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN), aims to strengthen and build on existing governance systems in the sector by reinforcing expected practice in key areas such as clinical governance structures and whole practice appraisal.

Medical practitioners working in organisations that have signed up to the framework will be required to submit data about the quality of their performance to the relevant national registries and the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN). In addition, they will be obliged to share summary appraisal outcomes and personal development plans to inform practising privileges reviews.

Under the framework, independent sector providers will also need to ensure they have a transparent clinical governance framework that is explicit about responsibility for medical performance and how issues are identified, managed, escalated and communicated to relevant stakeholders.

Corporate providers with multiple sites will be asked to appoint a clinician to lead on governance nationally, and to consider appointing local or regional designated lead consultants for clinical governance of medical practitioners with clearly defined responsibilities.

So far, 29 independent providers representing over 200 individual sites, have signed up to implementing the framework. The CQC has said that in the future it will consider implementation of the framework’s principles when making judgements about services being well-led.

The IHPN appointed Sir Bruce to oversee development of the framework at the end of last year in the wake of the Ian Paterson case and criticism of safety in the sector by the CQC and former health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Commenting on its development, Sir Bruce said: ‘Independent healthcare providers currently deliver healthcare to millions of people every year, including a significant number of NHS patients. While the vast majority of care in independent providers is of high quality and underpinned by robust safety and medical governance processes, more can and should be done to ensure clinicians and independent providers are working together to perform to the highest possible standards.   

‘I’ve therefore been delighted to work with healthcare regulators, Medical Royal Colleges and healthcare providers from across the independent sector to develop the Medical Practitioners Assurance Framework which will help foster a more standardised approach to medical governance in the sector and ultimately drive up the quality and safety of care for patients.’

IHPN CEO David Hare said the framework would raise the bar in medical leadership and ensure greater consistency around how clinicians work across the independent sector and NHS.

‘While the Care Quality Commission made clear in their report on independent acute hospitals last year that the overwhelming majority of care delivered in the sector is either good or outstanding, the sector was quick to act on their call for greater consistency around medical governance. The development of this framework demonstrates this culture of learning and continuous improvement which can be found in the sector and will give confidence to patients that independent healthcare providers are committed to delivering the safest possible care,’ he added.

The framework will be reviewed in late 2020 to ensure the principles remain in-keeping with current best practice around medical governance in the health system.