Matt James, PHIN's Chief Executive, updates on PHIN's activities during the first months of the Covid-19 global pandemic.

As we start emerge from the hiatus to normal life induced by the Covid-19 pandemic, it seems like a good time to update PHIN’s stakeholders on what we’ve been doing, and on the big themes that will soon come back into focus.

Firstly, we’d like to add our applause to that of the entire nation in saluting the amazing work done by the NHS, and by independent hospitals supporting the NHS, over this unprecedented period of national need. We were especially proud of our own Dr Natalie Silvey, who was released to return to a full-time clinical role as an Anaesthetic Registrar on the front line of fighting the virus.

During this period, PHIN provided modest support to independent hospitals and NHS colleagues to ensure that sensible, workable arrangements were rapidly put in place for reporting patient episode data to NHS standards. We’ve been able to maintain normal working from home, and have even successfully conducted a number of patient research interviews to inform future development of our website.

The impact of Covid-19 has been significant on private healthcare and it will undoubtedly take time to return to normal – if it ever does. Today we’ve published some initial data about privately funded healthcare during the pandemic, showing the extent to which elective activity has fallen off as independent hospitals and NHS private wards turned to providing urgent care, primarily for NHS patients. We will continue to monitor and report as both the NHS and private sector recover.

Usually, the information on our website is updated quarterly. However, with many hospital administrative staff reallocated to critical tasks it was likely data quality would be impossible to maintain, even for the reduced level of activity. As such, PHIN postponed the update scheduled for early June, meaning that our website continues to display data for the 12-month period ending September 2019. In these strange times where adjustment is needed, we feel that slightly aged information is preferable to potentially misleading information.

As the most intense period of the crisis abates, focus will gradually return to some other big issues. We understand that the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Review will be published in early July, and we expect that to have a profound impact on the future of reporting data on medical devices used in surgery.

Similarly, we await the response of the Department for Health and Social Care to the recommendations of the Independent Inquiry into the Issues Raised by Paterson. The first recommendation focused on the need for clear, understandable information about surgeons and their practice across private healthcare and the NHS – highly aligned to PHIN’s existing role. We are liaising with partners including NHS Digital, the Getting It Right First Time programme and the National Clinical Improvement Programme to consider what the best available solution might look like.

On that note, I would like to thank everybody who took the time to respond the public consultation on the Acute Data Alignment Programme (ADAPt). There were over 30 responses from a wide range of organisations and individuals, and the overall message was highly supportive. The Programme Board will publish the collated results shortly and will fully consider the feedback received in moving forward with the pilot exercise.

Incidentally, if you found this article on our website, you might like to have a look at our new Quarterly Digest newsletter, which covers these issues in a little more detail.

I hope that you are all staying safe and active and wish you a good summer.

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