Chapter Six – How to handle your Medico-legal responsibilities in your private practice
Setting up any business requires taking on several responsibilities including legal and regulatory, and the private healthcare industry understandably requires more than most.
All businesses must ensure they are registered with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) and adhere to the UK data protection regulations, following correct procedures to ensure data is held and managed securely.
Businesses within the private healthcare sector also have a responsibility to adhere to the measures introduced by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) which are particularly concerned about the availability of information to patients on consultant fees and the performance of consultants and private hospitals. The CMA has mandated that the Public Health Information Network (PHIN) publish performance and fee information about private consultants and hospitals and as a consultant, you will be required to provide this data to PHIN.
All doctors, working in private practice, are required to have medical indemnity insurance. There are numerous specialist providers offering appropriate policies but it is wise to check the small print thoroughly as this is a purchase decision where the cheapest may not be the best option.
You must also check if you need to register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the independent regulator of health and social care in England. The CQC state some regulated activities and if you are undertaking one or more of these activities you may need to register. If you have practising privileges at a private hospital that is registered with the CQC for regulated activities and is a designated body, you may be exempt.
If you do need to register with the CQC, be prepared for an involved process that can take several weeks to complete. The first stage is your CQC countersigned DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service), which may take eight weeks to arrive, but you cannot start your application until you have received this. Armed with your DBS, you can complete the application form, but this can take a full working day, so set plenty of time aside. The application process aims to check that the individuals involved are fit to provide the regulated activities and that the locations used are fit for the purpose.
All doctors in the NHS and in private practice must be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC). Revalidation is an ongoing process enabling the GMC to ensure doctors are fit to continue to practice. Revalidation follows a five-year cycle, but doctors must complete an annual appraisal and collate evidence on an ongoing basis to demonstrate they meet the necessary standards.