Skip to the content

NHS consults on sharing data from private healthcare providers


Gary Flood Correspondent

Get UKAuthority News


Abstract electronic medical record and data.
Image source:

NHS England wants the public to comment on recommendations that it should start collecting and processing information on healthcare activity carried out at private hospitals

It has opened a  consultation as part of the Acute Data Alignment Programme (ADAPt) on a potential “single source of healthcare data in England” to improve the quality of care for patients.

ADAPt is an ongoing joint programme that has been running since 2018 between the then NHS Digital and the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN).

It is aimed at encouraging the uptake of common standards for data collections and performance measures across both the NHS and private healthcare, and ensuring that relevant information is consistently recorded and available so it can be more easily analysed and compared.

If initiated, the result would be both NHS funded and private healthcare activity data being available in one place for the first time.

Fallout from scandal

The consultation, open until 20 April 2023, comes after the fallout of the conviction of breast cancer surgeon Ian Paterson for performing harmful and unnecessary surgery on patients across both NHS and private settings. The resulting Paterson Inquiry recommended bringing data on all consultant activity together in the same place.

Pilot projects, claims NHS England, have shown that private providers are able to submit admitted patient care data directly to the NHS. This can provide benefits, especially where data on private hospital activity can be linked to information on NHS funded care. Examples are insights such as the number of emergency re-admissions following discharge from a private provider.

The public consultation sets out the details of how private healthcare hospital activity data will be collected and processed by NHS England, which incorporated NHS Digital earlier this year.

High quality care

“NHS data already plays an important role in how we provide high quality patient care and monitor safety reporting systems across the NHS,” stated James Austin, director of data strategy and policy at NHS England.

“This vision of a single repository of healthcare information, combining NHS and private healthcare, will help provide better insights and lead to improved care and treatment for all patients across both the NHS and private healthcare sectors.

“Working jointly on the ADAPt programme has enabled us to see the benefits of how this might work. We’d now like to invite healthcare professionals, patient groups and individuals to share their views by responding to the consultation.”

To input to the consultation, you can either: complete an online questionnaire on the NHS England Digital Consultation Hub - emailing comments to [email protected], putting ‘ADAPt Consultation’ in the subject line.

If this goes ahead, NHS England plans to collect private healthcare APC activity data from the government mandated Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) and subsequently directly from private healthcare providers via the Secondary Uses Services (SUS).

This will include personal and confidential information and will be processed in line with data protection legislation and Caldicott principles.

The body says it will seek Secretary of State Directions under s254 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to establish a legal basis for the collection and processing, as well as issue data provision notices to PHIN and subsequently in respect of private healthcare providers, asking that they supply this data to NHS Digital under s259 of the HSCA 2012. 

Finally, it may also link the data to NHS funded hospital data and potentially other data sources, eg mortality data, to examine possible use cases and potential benefits of combining NHS funded and private patient hospital data within NHS systems.

Register For Alerts

Keep informed - Get the latest news about the use of technology, digital & data for the public good in your inbox from UKAuthority.