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Private Healthcare Provider’s Failings Highlight Patient Safety Concerns

A BBC Panorama investigation, reported on recently by BBC News, has found that a major private healthcare provider, Spire Healthcare, was responsible for critical delays in transferring a woman to NHS intensive care, which resulted in her death. Nafisa Khan’s daughter, Sabrina Khan, expressed her distress and blamed the healthcare staff at Spire Healthcare for not detecting her mother’s deteriorating condition sooner.

The Khan case is just one of several deaths following surgery at Spire Healthcare, and the BBC Panorama investigation further highlights the dangers of extended working hours for medical professionals in the private healthcare system.

According to reports, doctors were contracted to work up to 168 hours per week, well over the maximum hours recommended in NHS hospitals, which poses a serious risk to patient safety. The testimonies of these doctors underscore the alarming implications of such gruelling schedules. The investigation also uncovered that Spire has received three Prevention of Future Deaths reports from coroners calling for action in the past two years. Compounding the issue, coroners have issued warnings regarding Spire’s reliance on ambulance transfers to NHS hospitals, particularly in emergency situations, after three patients had died following long waits.

The investigation further highlighted the wider concerns about patient safety and the effectiveness of emergency procedures in private healthcare facilities as a whole. Most private hospitals lack the same level of intensive care facilities as NHS hospitals and, according to the Panorama investigation, some patients treated at Spire were unaware that these intensive care facilities would not be available. 

However, with the current backlog of patients waiting for NHS treatment in England reaching over 6 million, it is not uncommon for the NHS to fund private hospital treatments to counteract this issue. Spire Healthcare is one of the largest private hospital chains and has treated over half a million NHS patients.

Dr Nick Woodier from the Health Services Safety Investigations Body, highlights the inherent risks to patient safety, emphasising the necessity for transparency regarding hospital capabilities. Following Panorama’s investigation, Spire Healthcare has taken steps to update its hospital websites to inform patients of potential transfers to the NHS for intensive care. Spire Healthcare, which operates 39 private hospitals throughout the UK, has further apologised for the inadequate care provided to Nafisa Khan and has expressed its commitment to upholding a high level of patient care.

Private Healthcare Medical Negligence 

The stark reality of this investigation highlights that, unfortunately, even under private healthcare treatment or, indeed, NHS hospital care, it is not uncommon to experience a delay when being treated. If you or a loved one have suffered because of negligent or delayed treatment whilst receiving care under the private healthcare sector or NHS hospital, our specialist medical (clinical) negligence team can advise whether you have a claim.

When things don’t go right with your medical treatment, we are here to help you get the answers you deserve and the compensation you need to get your life back on track.

To speak to a member of our team today please call 0800 987 8800, email medneg@bmcf.co.uk or fill in this contact form.

Medical Negligence Specialists – Bridge McFarland LLP

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A number of our solicitors also hold the specialist Law Society Clinical Negligence Accreditation, a recognised quality standard for practitioners representing claimants in medical negligence matters. These accolades are only awarded to firms and individuals who have undergone regular, rigorous, and independent assessments.  

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