A long-awaited deal to get private clinics and hospitals to feed their safety data into the national incident database has been stalled since July by government plans to abolish quangos, Nursing Times has learnt.
Independent Healthcare Advisory Services director Sally Taber said patients could be at risk while the deal remains stalled, because currently patient safety alerts are based only on NHS data.
She said the private acute sector was last summer on the cusp of agreeing to feed its incident reports to the national reporting and learning system, hosted by the National Patient Safety Agency.
But when the Department of Health decided in July to abolish the agency, following its review of arm’s length bodies, Ms Taber said “everything came to a grinding halt”.
“Just before the review of arm’s length bodies, we got all the support from the independent sector to feed their adverse clinical incidents to the NPSA. We got all the IT sorted out,” she told Nursing Times. “[Then] everything stopped.”
Since then the deal has been on hold, while the parties wait to see who will take on the national reporting and learning system after the NPSA’s demise.
The NRLS receives confidential reports of NHS safety incidents from healthcare staff across England and Wales. NPSA experts analyse the data to identify common risks and issue safety alerts. The agency also publishes regular data on the number of incident reports it receives, broken down by region and organisation.
Ms Taber said that currently patients “don’t get any comparison to see whether these are problems in the independent sector, and from a patient safety point of view, that’s key”.
An NPSA spokeswoman said linking independent sector providers to the reporting system was first trialled in 2005.
She said: “Over the last year we had started the conversations again to see how the independent sector could feed into the NRLS but unfortunately these discussions have been put on hold since the decision to abolish us.”