Doctors urged to engage with PHIN

By a staff reporter

A leading consultant is encouraging colleagues with independent practices to engage with the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) because it is ‘a no brainer’.

Plastic surgeon Mr Nigel Mercer, a former president of both the national organisations who represent the specialty, says the main reason consultants should engage is that it is a legal requirement – ‘and you can’t choose not to engage with a legal requirement’.

But he tells Independent Practitioner Today in our news analysis there are other good reasons for consultants to provide PHIN with the data that the Competition and Markets Auth­ority (CMA) requires it to publish.

‘To me it is a bit of a no-brainer. I know of consultants who have complained for many years that they aren’t getting the referrals. This is a chance to put information about the quality of care you provide in front of patients. 

‘No surgeon should be worried about having their practice data published. 

‘We would all want to know the data about the surgeon that we see for our own care, and the same applies to the public.’ 

Mr Mercer, who has taken on a role as a PHIN board member, describes the information being gathered as ‘gold-dust’ for doctors’ appraisal and revalidation. 

‘You can push a button every year and out comes your private activity, which you can submit to your appraiser and, if need be, to your responsible officer. It will make the consultant’s life so much easier.’ 

He says he has found an enormous misconception among surgeons about what PHIN is about and recognises they have felt alienated from the process. 

Describing his working relationship with the specialty associations and Royal Colleges of Surgery as ‘good’, he feels he can now help bridge the gap with the consultant community. 

‘People no longer have an easy way of knowing which consultants are ‘good’, in particular in the private sector. That’s why I think PHIN has a really important role in providing information for patients.’ 

With private healthcare ‘very expensive’, patients really do deserve to have better information, he says.