First step in aligning NHS and private data

By Robin Stride

Pilot studies have been launched for the first comprehensive national dataset of ‘whole practice’ information for doctors and hospitals providing both NHS and private hospital care in England.

This is seen as an important step forward for The Acute Data Alignment Programme (ADAPt) which will see private healthcare data integrated into NHS systems.

Volunteer providers taking part in the pilots are Epsomedical, GenesisCare UK, HCA Healthcare, London North West University NHS Foundation Trust (private patient unit), Schoen Clinic and Spire Healthcare. 

Pilots are being jointly led by NHS Digital and the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN).

The need for this dataset was highlighted by the independent inquiry into rogue breast surgeon Ian Paterson, who provided unsanctioned and unnecessary treatment to patients in both NHS and private hospitals.

The ADAPt pilots will test the technical changes and governance requirements needed to transfer the collection of private admitted patient data from PHIN into NHS Digital. 

It is envisaged that the new national dataset will be made available through NHS Digital’s data-sharing services to regulators and public bodies to assist monitoring of safety and help drive service improvement.

PHIN will receive this information to support its legal requirement to publish whole-practice performance measures for hospitals and consultants offering private healthcare services. 

Vital step

Matt James

Its chief executive Matt James said: ‘It is great to have reached the operational testing stage of this very important partnership programme, and we’re grateful to the hospitals that have volunteered to participate, particularly during the challenges of the ongoing pandemic. 

‘This is a vital step in moving towards a more joined-up approach to managing healthcare data and will lead to significant improvements in the use of information to promote patient safety. We hope that these pilots will enable ADAPt to become fully operational in 2022.’

Fran Woodard, executive director of Data Services at NHS Digital, said the programme would improve patient safety through a more joined-up approach between the NHS and private sector.

John Reay, president and chief executive of HCA Healthcare UK, said: At present, divergence exists between how the NHS and independent sector providers like ourselves are measured, which can make it difficult for patients to compare the care being provided.  

‘It’s in the interest of all patients that a national dataset combining independent and public sector data is established in order to enhance quality and safety and to support decisions about care.’ 

Dr Cathy Cale, group medical director at Spire Healthcare, said: ‘Aligning systems in this way is an important step to obtaining a single repository of healthcare information in the UK. This will make it easier to follow patients across their full pathway, and deliver benefits in terms of governance and assurance.’