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Private healthcare prices becoming more transparent but further progress needed, warns PHIN

Thursday 9 May 2019

New information published by the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) will help patients to compare medical fees before seeking treatment, including regional differences in price. However, PHIN also warns that medical fees are just one part of the total price of private healthcare, and that work remains to do to bring full transparency to fees and charges for patients.

Approximately one in four private healthcare procedures in the UK are people paying for their own treatment (‘self-pay’), which is around 200,000 procedures per year. The other 75 per cent are covered by private medical insurance.

Consultants had to disclose their fees for self-pay patients after a Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigation found that the lack of transparency was unfair to consumers. PHIN was appointed by CMA to collect fee data from consultants and began publishing that information online at the end of April 2019 [1].

On PHIN’s website patients can find information about local specialists offering the treatment they need, including professional fees. PHIN has also launched a new comparative tool to show how prices vary nationally by procedure. It shows the typical fees charged by consultants for initial consultations, treatment, and follow-up consultations for the most common elective procedures performed privately in the UK [2].

PHIN’s data confirms that for initial and follow-up consultations, and many procedures there is a premium to pay for treatment in London. Whereas cataract surgery, the most common private procedure in the UK, is most expensive in the South West, according to the data submitted to PHIN.

While progress is being made on clearer fees, and many providers now offer all-inclusive ‘package prices’ that bundle fees together, PHIN says more needs to be done for consumers.

An informal secret shopper exercise commissioned by PHIN [3] illustrates the lack of clarity on fees consumers may face. It took several exchanges with hospitals and consultants’ medical secretaries to find out if the fees quoted were all inclusive or if there would be other charges. This was hardest for potential patients of consultants who didn’t offer a package price.

To help self-pay patients get a clearer picture of the likely fees they could face, PHIN has produced a guide and video along with a checklist of key things to ask when considering treatment options [4].

PHIN is also recommending the following to ensure greater transparency of fees for self-pay patients:

  • All 15,000+ consultants in the UK who offer private treatment need to publish their fees on PHIN’s website, in order to meet their current legal obligations. Consultants should already be giving patients comprehensive written quotes for fees prior to consultations, diagnostic tests, or treatment. This is required by the CMA Order and supports General Medical Council (GMC) Good Medical Practice guidelines.
  • We would like to see all private hospitals publish their prices on PHIN’s website to ensure that patients get a complete, transparent and fair picture of costs when choosing a provider. PHIN already enables hospitals to publish prices for common procedures, and some hospitals have begun to publish their inclusive package prices.
  • The private healthcare sector needs to do more work together to ensure that patients can get a guide price for the full expected price of treatment, and that prices, terms and conditions can be easily compared. These can then be published by PHIN. Despite improved transparency on price, patients may still struggle to compare terms and conditions between providers – for example, whether diagnostic, physio or follow-ups are included in a quoted price.

Matt James, Chief Executive of PHIN, said: 

“It has been very difficult for patients to find reliable information to compare fees before seeking treatment. We were asked to fix part of that problem by publishing medical fees, and we’ve taken an important step in publishing this information. Patients can now find the typical fees for more than 4,500 consultants, and it’s great that so many consultants are playing their part in improving price transparency. 

“However, the private healthcare sector must do more to ensure that terms, conditions and price are constructed with the patient in mind. This is understandably very complex, and will take time to work through, but is the right thing to do for patients. 

“Patients should know that they have legal rights to have fees set out in advance, so they can better compare their options before committing to a particular consultant.” 

Adam Land, Senior Director of Remedies at the CMA, said: 

“Consultants’ fees need to be clear and accessible if people are to make informed choices. 

“That is why the CMA appointed PHIN to collect and publish information on consultants’ pricing.

“The new information published today will help patients choose the right consultant for their needs.”

New Chief Inspector of Primary Medical Services and Integrated Care

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has appointed Dr Rosie Benneyworth as the new Chief Inspector of Primary Medical Services and Integrated Care. Rosie will take over from Professor Steve Field in early March.

View more information  here 

The Impact of Revalidation on Independent Doctors 

We are pleased to advise that we have now completed and submitted to the GMC the audit Tracking the Impact of Revalidation on 500 Doctors Connected to the Independent Doctors Federation. One positive conclusion from the audit is that ‘appraisal appears to be flagging concerns that warrant further action, enabling the RO to step in and ensure that the necessary governance measures are put in place to ensure a doctor remains up to date and fit to practise, ultimately leading to improved patient safety.’ You may wish to read a copy of the full audit report.

The IDF calls for zero tolerance of poor standards of safety and care in private hospitals

The Independent Doctors’ Federation (IDF) has called for zero tolerance of poor standards of safety and care in all independent hospitals and clinics.

The demand follows the publication of the latest Care Quality Commission (CQC) report on private hospitals.

While the majority of the 206 private hospitals inspected were providing good or outstanding care, the CQC said safety was a concern and that 41% of hospitals required improvement, with a further 1% deemed inadequate.

Since the initial inspections, The IDF understands that around half of the hospitals requiring improvement have raised standards, but too many still need to take action.

As the leading independent doctors’ representative organisation, the IDF is calling for zero tolerance of poor safety standards and care.

IDF President, Dr Brian O’Connor said, “The independent sector provides world class care and the UK is an increasingly popular destination for patients from all over the world. We recognise that there is never a perfect situation where every facility is without a problem every day of the year. However patients have the right to the highest standards of care and safety and there should be zero tolerance of anything less. As doctors we want to see the same high standards across the whole of the healthcare sector, private and NHS and while we support the continuing efforts of the CQC to help make this a reality, we call on all providers to ensure enough resource is available to ensure the highest standards of clinical governance,”  he said.

As a Designated Body, the IDF's Appraisal and Revalidation practice upholds the high standards on behalf of its members. The IDF encourages its members to participate fully in the systems that are in place in the hospitals in which they work and also to practice to the very highest standards. If they see problems they should take immediate action.

The full CQC Report can be seen here:

AIHO Announcement

The Association of Independent Healthcare Organisations (AIHO) and the NHS Partners Network (NHSPN) are announcing that from 1st June 2018 NHSPN will lead on representation of the independent healthcare sector.

The move reflects the fact that operators in the market wish to see industry representation cover all parts of independent sector service delivery including both NHS-funded and privately-funded services.

Traditionally both organisations represented two clearly defined areas of independent healthcare provision, namely NHS and privately-funded healthcare: AIHO was the trade association representing hospital members delivering privately-funded healthcare services; and NHSPN was the trade body for independent providers of NHS-funded services covering a range of sectors from acute to primary and community care as well as diagnostics and clinical home healthcare.

View more information here

IDF President, Dr Brian O'Connor 

I am saddened to hear that AIHO will no longer represent hospitals delivering privately funded healthcare having acted for private hospitals focusing on independent sector care only. NHS Partners Network (NHSPN) represented those independent providers of NHS funded services. This was a perfect arrangement as independent and purely private hospitals have different needs and diverse challenges to those providers of NHS funded services.

The IDF is surprised to read that all private hospitals will now apparently be represented by NHSPN without discussion or consultation with the medical profession, many of whom are in full time non NHS independent practice.

Dr Brian O'Connor MD FRCP FRCPI

Consultant Physician

Reflective Practice and Appraisal 

We have been asked by Responsible Officers in England to provide clarification over the use of written reflective practice in appraisals. This follows recent high profile discussion of this topic following the tragic death of a young boy, Jack Adcock, and the subsequent legal proceedings against Dr Bawa-Garba.

Further to the clarification here and a reminder of existing guidelines, we intend to follow this letter with more detailed dialogue and guidance at responsible officer network meetings. The aim is not to offer any commentary or assessment on the details of this case, but to aid and reinforce the positive culture of continued learning within the medical profession, the purpose of which is to increase quality of care for patients and families and to ensure a culture of openness and transparency.

View more information here

Comprehensive Medical Indemnity launched for GPs

The IDF has been working with Bespoke Medical Indemnity (BMI) who can now announce a competitively priced Medical Malpractice insurance on an annually reviewable basis and underwritten on a claim made policy wording. It is a comprehensive package policy designed to meet the insurance needs of UK based general practitioners including:

• A 24-hour medico-legal helpline operated by specialists providing clinical assistance and support
• Assistance with complaints and claims notification
• Medical malpractice cover for clinical negligence
• Professional indemnity cover for medico-legal reports written by the GP and any expert witness work
• Worldwide cover for Good Samaritan Acts
• Runoff cover providing cover for a period of time in the event of retirement, permanent disablement or death

Legal defence costs

• To defend clinical negligence allegations
• For GMC complaints or disciplinary hearings from private activities
• For GMC complaints or disciplinary hearings from NHS activities
• For criminal proceedings, including sexual misconduct and PACE interviews
• For employment disputes, tax investigations, contractual disputes, health and safety at work and property disputes
• For regulatory investigations stemming from security breaches

Further information is available by contacting Andy Foley, MD, Bespoke Medical Indemnity at

Alternatives to face-to-face GP consultations unlikely to deliver hoped-for benefits in practice

January 2018

The realities of implementing alternatives to face-to-face GP consultations, such as telephone, email, online and video consultations, mean that hoped-for reductions in GP workload and increases in available appointments for patients might not be realised. This is the finding of a study by led by researchers at the University of Bristol, published in the British Journal of General Practice today.

NHS policy encourages general practices to introduce alternatives to face-to-face consultations as a way of increasing access to healthcare and reducing GP workload. However, the evidence on their use and effectiveness is limited.

The researchers studied, in depth, how a variety of technological alternatives to GP consultations were being used in eight general practices of different sizes, in different geographical areas – some urban, some rural – and in different areas of socioeconomic deprivation in the UK. They found that although there were some potential benefits, there were also significant barriers to implementation, with practices often responding to incentives to introduce new technologies without a clear rationale or clearly thinking through the likely costs and benefits for patients and practice staff.

Professor Chris Salisbury from the University of Bristol’s Centre for Academic Primary Care, said: "Technological alternatives to face-to-face GP consultations are being pushed as the solution to reducing GP workloads and increasing patient access to primary care services. The reality on the ground is that implementation is difficult. Practices are introducing the technologies for different reasons and a ‘one size fits all’ approach will not work.

Dr Helen Atherton, from the University of Warwick and lead author of the study, said: "For patients, the availability of a wider range of options for consulting could be very helpful for some patient groups but has the potential to reduce the time the doctor has available for face-to-face consultations, which could disadvantage other patients.

The research was a collaboration between the Universities of Bristol, Warwick, Oxford, Edinburgh and Exeter and was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

View full article here.


Panorama on the Patterson Case - The IDF calls for urgent action

October 2017 

“Following statements by the President of the Royal College of Surgeons expressing concerns that not enough data is available to be able to conclude that all patients in private hospitals are safe, The Independent Doctors Federation (IDF), which represents over 1200 of the country’s leading doctors practising in the private sector, has called for urgent action.

The safety of private hospitals has been thrown into sharp focus by the conviction of former surgeon Ian Patterson, rightly jailed for 20 years for deliberately harming his patients for financial gain.

While the IDF recognises that regulation and clinical governance has improved enormously since Patterson began his disgraceful exploitation of vulnerable patients many years ago, there is still more to be done:

The IDF believes that all private hospitals must urgently make greater efforts to provide data on clinical outcomes so that patients and their referring doctors can make more informed decisions about where treatment should take place.

The IDF believes that the private sector has nothing to hide and on the contrary, it has been slow to discuss its achievements, its safety data and its success rates. However, in the future, any hospital that fails to provide outcome data in a timely fashion, should face regulatory sanctions.

In addition, the IDF believes that the practice of some doctors’ professional indemnity insurers of denying compensation in some cases to patients who have been harmed, is reprehensible and a practice that must end immediately.

If the sector is going to flourish and grow, it is time to change these anomalies and make private health care more open and transparent and easier to access for those who need it.

While utterly condemning the behaviour of Patterson, the IDF emphasises that the moral compass of doctors in the private sector is, and will always be, the same as those in the public sector with a universal desire to provide the highest standards of care and to improve the human condition.”

Patient Focused!

Teaching clinicians how to photograph patients professionally, ethically and legally.
4-day courses. Various locations nationwide. 
Accredited with the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP), eligibility for Licentiate of BIPP, with LBIPP post-nominal.
All equipment provided:: £770 - 20% discount for IDF Members with Booking Code IDF2017
How to book: Please click here for more information and visit website to purchase tickets.

Upcoming RSM Conference entitled - Changing the image of cosmetic surgery: Patients before profit is taking place on October 17th and Sally Williams is talking about 'What prompts patients to complain about cosmetic surgery'

Please see full programme of the event attached


In January this year the GMC published Sir Keith Pearson’s report – Taking Revalidation Forward and in July published an ‘Action Plan’ the delivery of which will be coordinated by the Revalidation Oversight Group (ROG), which replaces the Revalidation Advisory Board.  The group is chaired by GMC Chief Executive Charlie Massey and includes representatives of stakeholder organisations across the UK, including the independent sector.

The plan, agreed by ROG, aims at improving medical revalidation, making it a more positive and meaningful experience for doctors, responsible officers and patients.  The plan is organised into six work streams, each one covering a priority area from Sir Keith Pearson’s report:

1. Making revalidation more accessible to patients and the public
2. Reducing burdens and improving the appraisal experience for doctors
3. Strengthening assurance where doctors work in multiple locations
4. Reducing the number of doctors without a connection
5. Tracking the impact of revalidation
6. Supporting improved local governance

With reference to 4 above, reducing the number of doctors without a connection, not uncommon in the independent sector, the Department of Health in England will lead a review of the Responsible Officer Regulations, with a view to establishing a connection to a designated body for some groups of doctors that don’t ordinarily have one while making sure only organisations with robust governance arrangements are able to oversee a doctor’s revalidation.

The Independent Doctors Federation have agreed to undertake an audit of the impact of revalidation for a cohort of 500 connected doctors and the Revalidation Forum of the Association of Independent Healthcare Organisations (AIHO) have expressed an interest in participating in two subgroups; ‘Making Revalidation more accessible to patients and the public’ and ‘Tracking the impact of revalidation’.

The target date for completion of the various actions vary considerably, some such as; ‘more case studies to help doctors with patient feedback’ is expected to be completed by October 2017 whereas the audit mentioned above is scheduled for completion by the autumn of 2018.  I hope to provide further progress reports as we proceed.

The full details of the plan can be downloaded using the following link a plan to implement the recommendations in Sir Keith Pearson’s report.  The GMC are keen to seek the input of doctors and the public and if you have any questions or there’s a specific area you’re interested in getting involved with, you should contact

Each year Intuition Communication undertake research to provide an in-depth analysis of the self-pay market for electivesurgery in the UK.

We are now updating the study with the latest facts and figures, and views on the market, and are asking for your assistance in completing this research by providing your views on this aspect of private healthcare. In return for your assistance, we will provide you with a summary of the key findings of the latest research for free.

Complete the online survey for the Private Healthcare UK Self-Pay Market Study 2017 by 10th July 2017 and receive a free copy of the summary report.

We are asking you to take 10 minutes out of your busy day to provide your views. The questions relate solely to the self-pay (non-insured) market for elective surgery, and EXCLUDE cosmetic surgery patients

Thank you
Intuition Communication

Reconnecting with Women’s Health two-day conference
Joint Poundbury Education, Dumfries House, Ayrshire and Arran NHS and College of Medicine

Tuesday 12th September – Wednesday 13th September 2017

We are delighted to announce a two-day conference, open to all healthcare professionals, designed to provide a logical understanding of an integrated approach to comprehensive women’s health.

The programme includes:
Understanding the physiology of the menstrual cycle and what can go wrong
Exploring the meaning of integrated care
Understanding the importance of a holistic approach to women’s health
Understanding how different conditions can be treated
Developing a good in-depth understanding of care in a logical way
Having time to cross-pollinate and share ideas. 


For more information and to register please click here.

Publication of Private Healthcare Documents – CMA

9th May 2017

Final decision on possible material change of circumstance
Variation and commencement Order
Explanatory note
Summary of responses
Private Healthcare Market Investigation Order

All information relating to the investigation is available on the Private Healthcare case page

Private Healthcare Information Network publishes first set of private hospital performance measures 

3rd May 2017

The Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) will today publish the first of a series of performance measures intended to improve the availability of information to patients considering private healthcare services and start to bring standards of data quality and transparency in line with the NHS. 

Click here to read the full press release

Sue Smith, IDF CEO chairing The National Independent Healthcare Summit 2017

10th July 2017

Sue Smith will be chairing The Independent Healthcare Summit 2017, a national forum for discussion around improving quality and delivering outstanding practice in independent healthcare.

Click here to register online

Key Lines Of Enquiry (KLOEs)

5th April 2017

The CQC have published a clarification document together with the Key Lines Of Enquiry (KLOEs) for providers of remote doctor consultations and treatment.

Click here to read the full article for CQC clarification ofregulatory methodology: PMS digital healthcare providers 

Click here to read the full article for Digital provider KLOEs

CQC request for provider updated Statement of Purpose

4th April 2017

The CQC are updating their records to prepare for the next wave of inspections in the independent sector.

Click here to read the full article

LMCs stepping up plans for GPs to do more private work by end of this year

25th January 2017

GPs leaders in England are pushing ahead with plans to develop new structures that will enable GPs to carry out more private work in a bid to increase GP funding.

Click here to read the full article

Increase in private Medical Policies

16th January 2017

Healthcare trusts drive 2.1% increase in private medical policies in 2015.

Click here to read the full article

CQC Regulatory Fees Consultation 2017

28th October 2016 

The CQC has issued its proposed fee structure for next year. The CQC Advisor to the IDF, Martha Walker, has outlined the fee proposal for members.

Click here to read the full article

CQC launches fees consultation for 2017/18 year

21st October 2016

Click here to read the press release

CMA publishes timetable for initiating Article 22 Duty of consultants to provide fee information to PHIN

11th October 2016

Click here to read the full article 

Disclosure of Private Earnings by NHS Doctors - Article by Dr Brian O’Connor 

28th September 2016

NHS England is proposing that all consultants working in the private sector should be asked to declare their private practice details and their private practice income. 

Click here to read the full article 

Article in Pulse Magazine by Caroline Price

5th September 2016

Jump in private referrals after GPs are told to ask patients about insurance.

Click here to read the full article. 

CMA Press release: Hospitals must help provide better information for private patients

1 September 2016

From today hundreds of hospitals must supply data which will lead to better information on performance for patients considering private healthcare.

Click here to read the full press release.

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