How do Private and NHS hospitals infection rates compare
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Hospital Infection Rates – How Do Private and NHS Hospitals Compare?

It is a well-established fact that the rates of infections such as MRSA in private hospitals are much lower than the NHS. This record is one of the reasons why many people choose Private Medical Insurance – they know that the impact of an infection whilst in hospital can be devastating, and they value the extra cleanliness found in the private healthcare sector.

The BBC reported in 2014 that 300,000 people developed an infection in England each year whilst being treated on the NHS - 6% of patients. The NHS admits that these rates of infection are “unacceptable” – Prof Gillian Leng, of NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) commented:

"It is unacceptable that infection rates are still so high within the NHS…Infections are a costly and avoidable burden. They hinder a patient's recovery, can make underlying conditions worse, and reduce quality of life."

So how does the private hospital market compare?

Well, there is much data that tells a story of less infection in private hospitals than in the NHS – private health site Surgery Door reports that rates of private hospital infection for a typical procedure would be at around the 1 – 2% mark. This is less than a third of the NHS figure.

Surgery Door then goes on to report that some private hospital groups (including Bupa) have even in some years achieved a 0% rate of MRSA infections in all its hospitals – an amazing record of hygiene and cleanliness.

So why the difference?

There are a few factors:
  • Private hospitals generally house their patients in single rooms rather than wards – this has the effect of a lessening of cross-infection between patients.
  • More staff resources in private hospitals means staff are under less pressure and have more time to not make mistakes in hygiene.
  • In private hospitals there is more budget to pay cleaning staff to thoroughly clean the hospital, giving them more better equipment and more training than NHS cleaning staff.

UK private hospitals really are leading the way in the fight against hospital acquired infections such as MRSA and C Difficile; rigorous hand washing procedures (which include both soap and water and sanitiser to protect against certain strains of C Difficile) have been in place in private hospitals for years, but are now being adopted by many NHS hospitals.

Stories in the media reveal a downside of NHS care – lower standards of cleanliness - to the public, and many people are taking the option of taking out a PMI policy to guard against this genuine health threat.

PMI offers the security and peace of mind that you are far less likely to acquire a hospital infection in a private environment than in the NHS.