Shocking failures uncovered at Manchester private hospital reveals dark side of industry

21st March 2017 Clinical Negligence

Private hospitals often evoke images of modern, clean and well-equipped facilities staffed with doctors and nurses who have more than enough time to spend with patients. No long waiting times, access to private rooms and an altogether shinier and more pleasant experience than the NHS.

For many patients who have been treated in a private hospital; through choice, medical insurance or because a procedure has been outsourced by the NHS; that is the case.

However there is a dark side to some private hospitals which is starting to emerge now that the NHS is increasingly turning to them to ease pressure on its services and meet waiting time targets.

Patient safety regimes and reporting measures are often not as stringent as in NHS hospitals and it can be easier for unsafe care to fly under the radar. One of the most recent examples of this came to light last week when the Manchester Evening News reported the serious failings at the Oaklands Private Hospital in Salford. As I am currently investigating a case against this hospital on behalf of a patient who suffered a serious leg injury while in surgery which had had a significant impact on her life I sincerely hope this situation improves urgently.

One of the most serious care issues reported by the MEN was that anaesthetists routinely left the operating theatre during surgery to go and watch television and eat meals, putting patients at significant risk of harm. A damning report by watchdog the Care Quality Commission, which rated the hospital inadequate, also found that most theatre staff were not trained in how to deal with a patient who has gone into respiratory or cardiac arrest, the MEN reports.

These issues were frankly an accident waiting to happen and could have had fatal consequences. Lives have been put at risk by this lapse attitude and poor management and with thousands of NHS patients sent to the hospital every year it is a perfect example of why NHS reliance on private services should be scrutinised and steps taken to bring safety measures in line with NHS standards.

The NHS is facing many challenges as it struggles to cope with patient demand and outsourcing seemingly routine procedures to private hospitals is way of relieving some of the pressure. However even the most basic of operations has the potential to go badly wrong and even if the consequences are not life-threatening they can be serious and debilitating. The NHS' responsibility to patients does not end when they hand them over to private hospitals and with outsourcing set to grow this is an issues requiring urgent attention.

However no matter how a patient has found their way into a private hospital they need and deserve for there to be adequate safety nets in place. At the moment that is not always guaranteed.

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Katie Nolan is an Associate located in Manchesterin our Clinical Negligence department

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