A regulator has thrown out a private hospital’s complaint that NHS GPs were not offering patients the choice to use their services after a decline in patient numbers.
A report produced by Monitor, which independently regulates NHS trusts, has dismissed the claim by Spire Healthcare.
However, the year-long investigation found both NHS Blackpool, and Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) should be doing more to promote choice among patients.
Dr Amanda Doyle, chief clinical officer for Blackpool CCG, said: “We are pleased that, following an extremely thorough, year-long, investigation, Monitor has found that there was no substance at all to Spire’s complaint.
“We will now make every attempt to help repair the relationship between this provider and the local GPs, whom they wrongly accused of acting against the best interests of patients in Blackpool.
“We recognise that Monitor did not find enough evidence that we promoted choice in GP surgeries or on the home page of our website. We will be looking to implement their recommendations in this regard.”
Monitor found the CCGs were not making sure patients were offered a choice of hospital for routine surgery, and were failing to ensure patients had information about the different hospitals available.
However, it did not uphold the complaint from Spire Healthcare that the groups were directing patients away from its Spire Fylde Coast Hospital, on St Walburga’s Road, towards other NHS services.
Dr Tony Naughton, clinical chief officer of Fylde and Wyre CCG, added: “We are pleased that Monitor has found no substance to Spire’s complaint that we sought to inappropriately influence where patients may choose to have their treatment.
“In parallel to the investigation, we have taken the opportunity to review our patient choice communications processes which have now been significantly improved.”
A spokeswoman for Spire said: “Spire is pleased that following a year-long investigation Monitor has agreed that the CCGs were not providing sufficient objective information to support patients and their GPs in choosing a hospital for routine elective care.”
Catherine Davies, executive director of co-operation and competition at Monitor, said: “Patients have legal rights to make choices about aspects of their NHS care, and commissioners have an important job to do making sure that patients are offered a choice by their GPs.”