CCGs warned over provider transparency

CCGs must force private providers to share patient data to avoid damaging integration with NHS services, a senior RCGP figure has warned.

Dr Hoghton: 'Without independent providers providing the same information as the NHS, it will be very difficult to benchmark against NHS providers.'
Dr Hoghton: 'Without independent providers providing the same information as the NHS, it will be very difficult to benchmark against NHS providers.'

Companies that are providing NHS services should be obliged to share key data, so care pathways can be audited and continuing research efforts protected, said Dr Matt Hoghton, medical director of the RCGP Clinical Innovation and Research Centre.

He urged CCGs to enshrine this duty in any contracts agreed with service providers.

The GPC has warned that the DH's any qualified provider (AQP) policy, which opens up NHS services to non-NHS providers, could fragment health services. The Royal College of Physicians recently voiced concerns that AQP could damage the integration of NHS care pathways.

DH figures released last month showed that private companies dominated the initial wave of AQP services tendered.

Dr Hoghton told GP: 'While independent providers already give some data, they need to be contractually obliged to be involved in research. A lot of NHS patients are recruited for research projects, and we need to be clear that providers must be involved in that research if they are part of an NHS pathway.'

He added: 'The National Institute for Health Research network is often looking at pathways and not just single service provision. If we can't get access to what happens in particular points of the pathway, it hampers national effectiveness. It is essential.'

Resources such as the GP Extraction Service are used extensively for research and clinical audit. For this to operate, sufficient patient data on care processes and outcomes must be fed back to GPs, he said.

Dr Hoghton added that transparency of NHS patients' data was also vital for the audit of care quality and standards.

'Without independent providers providing the same information as the NHS, it will be very difficult to benchmark against NHS providers,' he said.

A DH spokesman said: 'Research is vital to the continuous improvement of quality in the NHS. We believe that the NHS should drive innovation both in healthcare and across the wider economy. High-quality research will be essential to do this.

'The Health and Social Care Act 2012 places a legal duty to promote research and the use of research evidence, and powers to support research, on the NHS Commissioning Board and CCGs.'

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