Check out your private practice obligations

Independent hospitals have been asked by the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) to brief consultants by putting the information below on their noticeboards.

If your hospital has not got round to this, then read its letter giving private consultants information about their obligations under the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA’s) Private Healthcare Order:

Consultants working in private practice. 

1. Your legal obligations with respect to the CMA Order 

This letter sets out the obligations on consultants practising privately arising from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Private Healthcare Market Investigation Order 2014 (as amended). 

PHIN is the CMA nominated ‘Information Organisation’, which is there to help consultants meet their obligations, which are to: 

a) Submit PHIN the fees you charge for your private medical services using PHIN’s online portal; 

b) Provide private patients with your consultation fee before they are seen for consultation; 

c) Provide private patients with your procedure fees before they undergo any procedure; 

d) Direct patients to the PHIN website; 

e) Consultants are also expected to work with PHIN and private providers to ensure accurate information about their practice is published. 

PHIN is working collaboratively with consultants and providing guidance and support to help you meet your obligations. Where consultants persistently fail to engage with PHIN, the CMA has requested that they are notified of this. 

The CMA has a range of powers that it is permitted to take to enforce compliance, including initiating court proceedings, if necessary. As healthcare providers, we have responsibilities under the CMA Order, which include ensuring that consultants comply with the relevant parts of the Order. 

Consultants who continue to avoid meeting their obligations risk losing their practising privileges. 

2. What is the CMA Order and why is it important to you 

The CMA has a mandate to promote competition to the benefit of consumers. They have powers to place legal obligations – ‘remedies’ – on organisations and individuals. 

The CMA conducted a two-year investigation (2012-14) into the private healthcare market and concluded that a range of remedies should be introduced, including the publication of performance and fees information at consultant level. The relevant legislation is the Private Healthcare Market Investigation Order (2014) (as amended). 

3. What is the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) and what is it legally obliged to do? 

The CMA set up PHIN as its ‘Information Organisation’ under the Act in 2015 with the legal power and obligation to collect and publish information about hospital and consultant performance and consultants’ fees. 

It is a not-for-profit, private limited company. It is funded through the subscriptions from the providers (hospitals) based on numbers of private cases treated 

4. What specific obligations does the CMA Order place on consultants? 

4.1 Fee submission 

Consultants who provide services to private patients are under the legal obligation provide complete, accurate and up-to-date fee information to PHIN to be published on PHIN’s website. 

This includes fees charged for initial and follow-up consultations and professional fees charged for the top 50 procedures they perform numerically. Currently, the requirement on consultants is to provide self-pay patient fee information. 

During the next four years, collection and publication will be extended to include insured fee arrangements, anaesthetic fees, and outpatient consultations for non-admitting medical Consultants. PHIN has established an online portal for consultants to submit their fee information: 

4.2 Performance measures 

Article 21 of the Order requires PHIN to publish a range of ‘performance measures’ – this is the term used in the Order – at site and consultant level. These include volume of activity, length of stay, feedback, adverse events, mortality and patient-reported outcomes. 

For consultants, PHIN currently publishes information about their overall patient feedback and their volume of activity and length of stay for the procedures they perform. 

PHIN is working with consultants and other stakeholders to identify which of the other Article 21 measures are appropriate to publish at consultant level to ensure any information we publish is fair and appropriately representative of consultants’ practice, as well as useful to patients. 

Consultants are not required to provide data about these measures directly to PHIN, as the obligation to provide this data rests with the hospitals where the consultants practise privately. It is essential that this information is complete, accurate and up to date. 

To help ensure this, PHIN enables consultants to view the data about their practice provided by the hospitals in the consultant portal.

Consultants are expected to verify that the information is accurate and, if required, raise data quality issues to be addressed by the submitting hospital(s). 

For further information and support in providing the required information to PHIN, contact or call 0203 143 3177.