Response to Jeremy Hunt's letter to 206 independent acute hospitals
To all stakeholders including staff, customers and commissioners
The message behind Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s letter to 206 independent ‘acute’ hospitals, following concerns about medical mistakes is of course that patient safety is paramount.
As a mental healthcare provider, the Priory Group is not among the 206 hospitals but as a major NHS partner, we stand behind Mr Hunt’s call for all hospitals to ensure patients receive the safest, best quality care, and at Priory we have long-established measures in place to ensure this is so.
This is reflected in our CQC ratings. Overall, when benchmarked against the mental health sector as a whole, independent providers of mental health care score highly for quality and safety and Priory’s CQC ratings in England are 82% ‘good’ or better, against 74% for NHS mental health services. It also has no hospital sites rated ‘inadequate’.
Specifically, Mr Hunt wants private hospitals to take responsibility for the work and standards of private consultants, even if they are not technically employees.
At Priory hospitals, doctors with so-called “practising privileges’’ are clinically managed in the same way as Priory-employed doctors. There are weekly audits on prescribing practices and audits on the documentation of risk assessments, as well as on physical health and care plans.
For a significant numbers of doctors with practising privileges, Priory is the body responsible for their revalidation by the General Medical Council and we have been commended by NHS England on our stringent appraisal systems. Where doctors are revalidated by the NHS or another provider as the responsible body, we require they share their annual appraisal and this has to be signed off by the Priory hospital’s medical director. Where there are concerns, information is immediately shared externally, including with the GMC if necessary.
Mr Hunt also has concerns in other areas including in relation to contracting and transparency.
Unlike the acute sector, independent mental health hospitals do not select NHS contracts for so-called “easy to manage” patients. Our contracts often pertain to patients whose needs are the most complex. This is particularly true where local NHS services don’t have the expertise to treat them.
The Priory Group also has a strong record on transparency; we submit a huge range of data and results to commissioners, including NHS England, Clinical Commissioning Groups and other mental health providers, as well as to private medical insurers.
We look forward to working with our NHS partners in the future as we continue to strive to provide safe and high quality care to all our patients.
Dr Sylvia Tang
Chief Executive Officer