Now all private patients ‘must have right to complain’

Most private patients have a good experience, with positive patient satisfaction and experience scores routinely more than 95% – but many still have no right to complain.

Ahead of the Government’s full response to the Paterson Report, the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) today stressed the need for all voices to be heard via an  independent complaints process. 

PHIN chief executive Matt James said too many private patients did not have this right and he was happy to be working with the Independent Sector Complaints Adjudication Service (ISCAS) ‘to make sure patients know where they can – and more importantly – where they cannot access these important services.’ 

To help people considering which healthcare provider is right for them, PHIN has produced a series of short guides as well as information about complaints for private patients. 

ISCAS was set up for people choosing private treatment and is recognised by health regulators across the UK. But PHIN said while all of the larger hospital providers offer access to ISCAS, 351 do not. Of those, the vast majority (277) were NHS trusts that provide paid-for services. 

ISCAS director Sally Taber said: ‘It may come as a surprise to people to hear that private healthcare patients who are unhappy with their care don’t have access to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, even if they are treated at an NHS hospital. 

‘Details of where patients can access ISCAS’s complaints service are available on PHIN’s website. It’s really important that people have access to good information about the quality of care provided and it is as equally important that they can research how their chosen hospital will manage an issue if things do go wrong.’ 

A key issue to emerge from the inquiry report last year into convicted rogue surgeon Ian Paterson concerned private patients being unable to escalate complaints to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, even if they were treated in NHS facilities.