Hospital Dr News

NHS England publishes consultant surgeon data

An expanded set of results for individual consultant surgeons have been published for the second year running on a new website.

NHS England has brought together on one site updated data for the 10 specialities covered in 2013, together with data for surgeons operating in three more speciality areas.

Data for lung cancer, neurosurgery and urogynaecology has been added to the 10 specialities published in 2013, and will be available in the coming weeks.

Results included in the Consultant Outcomes Publication (COP) are based on National Clinical Audit data.

Across all 13 specialties, the data covers around 5,000 surgeons – up from around 4,000 last year – and show whether clinical outcomes for each consultant are within expected limits.

The overall results are expected to reassure patients, with mortality rates for almost all surgeons being within the expected range.

Additionally, as well as the mortality results which formed the basis of last year’s publication, a number of other useful outcome indicators have been added by many specialties, including length of hospital stay and readmission rates.

The data is published in a patient-friendly format on MyNHS, the dedicated transparency area within the NHS Choices website, where patients and professionals alike can compare the performance of their local hospital, their care services and their local authority in a simple format.

The publication of outcomes data began in 2006 and was led by Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England’s National Medical Director, who pioneered the scheme with publication of the mortality rates of cardiac surgeons.

Work to compile the data has again been led by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP), which manages the National Clinical Audit programme on behalf of NHS England.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh said: “This represents another major step forward on the transparency journey. 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.”

However, Prof 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.

“There is now good anecdotal evidence that shows publishing this data has encouraged risk-averse behaviour, which is not in the interest of patients.”

The ten surgical areas are: adult cardiac surgery, bariatric surgery, colorectal surgery, head and neck surgery, orthopaedic surgery, thyroid and endocrine surgery, upper gastro-intestinal surgery, urological surgery, vascular surgery and, neurosurgery. The other audits are interventional cardiology, lung cancer and urogynaecology.

Most surgical specialities cover a wide range of operations, and at this stage, the published data only covers a limited number of procedures. The selection process takes into account factors such as what procedures are currently covered by audit/registry; how frequently the procedure is undertaken; and whether it is considered a good indicator of skill. For example orthopaedics have chosen to look at hip and knee replacement surgery.

Commenting on the publication of data, Miss Clare Marx, president, Royal College of Surgeons, 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.”

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