Personal Injury, Serious Injury & Clinical Negligence

Are private hospitals safer than NHS hospitals?

The simple answer is that we do not know. In a report published by The Centre for Health and Public Interest the fact that there were 800 unexpected deaths in private hospitals between October 2010 and April 2014 is no guide to whether those hospitals are performing well or not. There is no requirement for private hospitals to publish information on mortality rates, infection rates and other indicators in the same format as NHS hospitals. Consequently it is currently impossible to compare the performance of the private sector with the NHS on a like for like basis.

Peter Walsh, chief executive of Action Against Medical Accidents, said: “This report confirms it is time for the same level of scrutiny, regulation and protection of patients’ safety and rights to be afforded to private patients as is now being done for NHS patients.

“A comparable complaints procedure and access to independent advice on complaints would be a good starting point.”

The private health care sector claim that the care they provide is overwhelmingly safe and that there are on going projects, developed in conjunction with the NHS, to ensure that reporting of relevant data is compatible. Whilst that data is not yet available, the systems are expected to be in place in the near future which will allow patients and professionals to compare performance and answer the question for themselves – which is safer?

If you have experienced an unacceptable level of care in a private or NHS setting the experienced clinical negligence team at Clarke Willmott can help. Contact Chris Thorne at for further information.