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Quality and safety in hospitals to be assessed in new study

Posted on 2 February 2023

A new study into the quality and safety of patient care in NHS and independent hospitals will look at the substantial changes in the sectors for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic.

The research team will explore how reforms are working

The research team from the universities of York and Manchester plan to use existing routine data to explore patterns of care provision and patient flows, to examine the scope of practice of doctors working across both sectors, and any differences in quality of care.  

The research will build on reforms led by both NHS Digital and the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN), which will create a single dataset for all admitted patient care across all acute hospitals.

National surveys

Karen Bloor, Professor of Health Economics and Policy at the University of York said: “This project will be the first major study to make use of data about inpatient care from both NHS and independent hospitals, looking at the whole scope of medical practice and exploring the differences and variations within and across hospitals.”

Through national surveys of hospital leaders and on-site work, the team will explore how reforms to clinical governance are working and how information is used in practice to support quality improvement. 

Researchers will also examine patients’ experiences of care across the NHS and independent sectors. 

Working together

Kieran Walshe, professor of health policy and management at Alliance Manchester Business School, and research lead, said: “The research will explore the changes which have followed reports such as the Paterson inquiry – an independent inquiry set up following the conviction of surgeon Ian Paterson – which highlight the need for good clinical governance across the interface between NHS and independent hospitals. This is a complex area where good evidence of what works is much needed.”

The independent healthcare sector is playing an increasingly important role in meeting the rising demand for both NHS and privately-funded treatments. The new study will help address whether all parts of the healthcare system work together as effectively as possible so that patients get the best possible care, wherever they are treated.

The research is support by a range of stakeholder organisations, including: the Independent Healthcare Provider Network; the Care Quality Commission; NHS Digital; the Private Healthcare Information Network; the General Medical Council and NHS England; and from Alliance Manchester Business School’s patient and public involvement forum.

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