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Surgeons’ performance data published in NHS league tables

Performance data of 5,000 consultant surgeons has been published on the new MyNHS website to increase transparency.

Critics say the data is “crude” and can be misleading as it does not include essential information such as duration of hospital stay and returns to theatre.

This year’s publication, which covers 10 specialty areas of surgery, gives patients another route to find out more about an individual surgeon’s practice and the outcomes for their patients after an operation.

The consultant outcomes data, based on national clinical audits, is a way of measuring performance against a set of professional standards such as survival rates, length of stay in hospital following a procedure and repeat operation rates, as well as the number of operations performed.

In general, the data show that most surgeons are performing operations and procedures to the high standards expected by their own professional association.

But, for a second year, a handful of surgeons appear as ‘outliers’.

NHS England’s medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, who has championed transparency in the NHS, said the website will drive up standards.

“This represents another major step forward on the transparency journey,” he said. “It will help drive up standards, and we are committed to expanding publication into other areas. The results demonstrate that surgery in this country is as good as anywhere in the western world and, in some specialities, it is better.

“The surgical community in this country deserves a great deal of credit for being a world leader in this area.”

The Royal College of Surgeons stated that where there is a concern, the specialty association is working closely with the individual and hospital trust in order to understand the reasons behind their data and where necessary ensure support is in place so that patients are receiving a high standard of care.

Clare Marx, president of the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), said: “Patients and surgeons should have honest and open conversations about the likely outcome of their surgery and best treatment options available. Publishing consultant outcomes is just one step for ensuring that dialogue and trust is present.

“This is by no means a quick process. Year on year we will develop our methods for collecting and analysing data so that we are continually improving the quality of care and the outcomes we deliver for our patients.”

The College added that greater transparency in the NHS and honest conversations with patients are at the heart of improving patient care. Consultant outcomes data is just one way in which the RCS is committed to ensuring that patients receive information and a high quality of care.

In a speech today, health secretary Jeremy Hunt is expected to say: “Transparency is about patient outcomes, not process targets. It uses the power of a learning culture and of peer review, not blame.

“Healthcare globally has been slow to develop the kind of safety culture based on openness and transparency that has become normal in the airline, oil and nuclear industries. The NHS is now blazing a trail across the world as the first major health economy to adopt this kind of culture.”

But Professor John MacFie, president of the Federation of Surgical Specialty Associations, said: “The publication of individual surgeons’ performance data is crude and can be misleading, and does not include essential information such as duration of hospital stay and returns to theatre.”

Gill Humphrey, chair of the RCS Patient Liaison Group, added that to patients, the patient-surgeon relationship is very important and consultant outcomes can help build a relationship of trust and openness.

“Patients can be active participants in their care and use consultant outcomes information to help have an informed conversation with their surgeon and discuss the likely outcome and recovery process from their procedure,” she added.

However, earlier this week, it was revealed that around 2,500 consultants have not published their figures. The RCS said that all doctors can and do discuss outcomes with patients and “to suggest that we would need to be forced to be open is utterly misleading”.

But NHS England is looking into ways of forcing surgeons into revealing their figures. Prof Sir Bruce Keogh said: “We are looking now at a series of inducements, penalties to force that [publishing death rates].”

He added that the move was necessary to help improve and maintain the quality of care.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


David Lynds J.P.   14/06/2016 at 09:25

Where are the performance tables, no links anywhere! Even when you search it just comes back to this page!!! How helpful you are to the public!

J HUNTER   14/06/2016 at 22:15

I looked at performance info on the MyNHS website as advised. I wanted to compare 3 orthopaedic surgeons to do my operation and compare figures but the data entered was the same for these orthopaedic surgeons at Spire Hull and East Riding hospital facility. The NHS hospital comparison for same surgeons had individual records. You need to force hospitals ie Spire Hull & East Riding to take this seriously. Most professionals in the public sector and business have their performance related data recorded and assessed and all hospital data managers should be encouraged to do this, no exceptions. As a member of the tax-paying public I want to know who is the best surgeon to rectify my complaint and at which hospital. How can I make a sensible decision with dodgy data. These performance tables are useful, necessary if not vital and need to be enforced for transparency to protect the public and highlight issues for the surgeons/consultants and hospitals they work in.

Ja (U.S.)   28/11/2016 at 04:13

Performance data Should be accessible to prospective patients. Surgery is a life & death decision and should be taken seriously by all involved here. The more informed everyone is, and the more we learn from each other, advancement will take place and survival rates will only improve in numerous areas. Kudos to those researching and providing this database!

Nickg   15/12/2016 at 09:20

'My NHS Website' Why on earth do you advertise a website that you cannot open - get a grip

John P   29/12/2016 at 21:09

Trying to find performance data for my upcoming operation with my surgeon. In theory it should be available. In reality it either isn't or the pathway to access is so well hidden it may as well not be available.

Maggie T   02/01/2017 at 20:48

I also tried to find the outcomes for a surgeon who operated on me recently, to discover whether he was as bad as I think he is. There was absolutely no way of accessing any data. There appears to be little transparency anywhere in the system, just empty words.

Susan Housley   09/03/2017 at 00:33

I have tried finding the performance of a specific surgeon and despite all the rhetoric about data on outcomes I have been unable to find any information on this site. Having read comments above I am not alone in finding this a pointless search. Please advise where I can find the proper data.

Eddie C   12/03/2017 at 17:34

I totally agree with the comments above, this web page totally fails to provide the information it claims it has.

Mark T   18/03/2017 at 17:56

This is a great idea but the reality is that it does not do what it says on the tin. Surely this data can be made available in a simple way for the public I.e. Provide the simple option to search for any consultant by name and see an overview of their performance. We are putting our lives in the hands of people where we have no idea how good they are - if I want any type of tradesperson I have easy access to loads of their performance data. It appears that understanding the performance of a car mechanic is more important than understanding how good or bad our surgeons are. We are surveyed almost ever time we receive other services in life from a bank loan to a grocery delivery and It really is time that the NHS woke up and came into the 21st century.

Nn   27/03/2017 at 23:35

Cant find it. Useless website to say the least!

Peter Bennett   03/04/2017 at 00:13

Total waste of space!!?? A joke... The persons organising this fiasco probably receive well in excess of six figure salaris. TALK ABOUT NHS WASTE.... A total disgrace and insult to a patient.

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