Sian O’Neill looks at criticisms of the private medical sector

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An investigation by BBC Panorama has highlighted a long standing issue with the private healthcare sector. Concerns have been raised following the death of a woman after surgery at a Spire Healthcare hospital. The investigation centres on patients’ deterioration not being recognised early enough, and a failure to take action quickly when it was.

Reports indicate that Spire Healthcare has received three Prevention of Future Deaths reports in the last two years. The reports and investigations highlight Spire’s reliance on transfers to NHS hospitals in the event of emergencies, and their use of the already oversubscribed ambulance service for these displacements is causing their patients to wait when in urgent need.

Surgeons at private hospitals often also practice within the NHS, meaning they work long hours and are regularly juggling many patients. It is a well established fact that long working hours and minimal sleep impacts the capability of professionals, and with avoidable deaths as the result of failures to act on the increase it is hard not to see why people have drawn a correlation.

Patient safety is at risk and it begs the question of who is liable when the worst case scenario plays out, the NHS or the private hospital?

The NHS is still processing their backlogs from before and during the pandemic. With more than six million people on the waiting list they are looking to private hospitals to share the load. Since 2021, Spire Healthcare alone has treated in excess of 500,000 NHS patients and have the 30% profit increase last year to show for it.

In addition to this, Spire has been embroiled in a number of scandals surrounding some surgeons they recommended and allowed to practice at their hospitals, such as the disgraced Ian Paterson, and Anthony Dixon who is subject to ongoing investigations and a GMC tribunal.

Our lawyers  have brought claims against a number of private hospitals, including Spire, and we are actively dealing with clinical negligence claims against Anthony Dixon. So, if you require expert guidance from lawyers with extensive experience of dealing with negligence claims against private hospitals then contact our free legal helpline.

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Negligence claims against private hospitals