HC Deb 06 February 2002 vol 379 c1042W
Mr. George Osborne

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action the Government proposes to take following the coroner's verdict on the death of Laura Touche at the Portland hospital, London. [30854]

Jacqui Smith

We have already taken steps to improve the regulation of private health care services. From 1 April this year, a new independent body, the National Care Standards Commission, will take over from health authorities the regulation of independent health care providers.

For the first time, providers will have to meet national minimum standards. The guiding principles when producing these standards was that the needs of patients were paramount, and that the standards must be compatible with national health service standards where possible. The standards comprise core standards with which all independent health care providers will have to comply, including the requirement that they have in place a formal complaints policy and procedures. Complainants who are dissatisfied with a hospital's complaints system may approach the Commission direct.

Apart from core standards, providers will be required to meet standards specific to the services they provide. For the first time, the owners and managers of private hospitals will be held accountable for the quality of care provided in their establishment.

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