NHS Digital and the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) are piloting the alignment of NHS and private care data to improve transparency across both systems.

The two organisations have begun the testing phase of a programme that will see data on privately-funded care from independent hospitals collected by the NHS for the first time.

The pilots are part of the Acute Data Alignment Programme (ADAPt), initiated by the Secretary of State for Health in 2018, and will test the technical changes needed to transfer the collection of private admitted patient data from PHIN to NHS Digital.

This data will be fed onto PHIN to facilitate the publication of whole-practice performance measures for hospitals and consultants offering private healthcare services, in line with the Private Healthcare Market Investigation Order 2014.

A public consultation was launched in February 2020 which asked for opinions on the creation of a single unified dataset for planned hospital admissions in England.

It is envisaged that the national dataset will be made available through NHS Digital to regulators and public bodies to assist monitoring of safety and help drive service improvement.

Jem Rashbass, executive director of data services at NHS Digital, said: “With the pandemic it has never been clearer how important it is to make data available across the whole healthcare sector to ensure the highest standards of care for patients and transparency across the system.”

If successful, the pilot could see the publication of a complete national dataset of public and private hospital data in England. The need for such information was highlighted by the Independent Inquiry into rogue breast surgeon Ian Paterson.

Matt James, chief executive of PHIN, added: “We are committed to a vision of a single system of data collection for all regulated care regardless of how it is funded or where it is provided, led by the NHS.

“This will enable better governance and regulation to ensure safer care, and better information becoming available to patients to enable informed decisions.

“These pilots are an important step, and we hope to move on quickly to full implementation.”