Surgeons who refuse to publish their clinical performance data should be publicly named. Jeremy Hunt has promised to take tough action after it emerged that doctors could block the release of the information under the Data Protection Act.
The health secretary said there was ‘no valid reason’ why doctors should be able to stop the release of the information, which would help patients identify the best place for treatment.
League tables for 10 specialities are due to be published in England from next month. The league tables will be available on the NHS Choices website and will cover about 4,000 surgeons.
Royal College of Surgeons and experts say there is a risk some consultants may be wrongly stigmatised. So far 92 surgeons have vetoed the publication of their statistics. Many are thought to have death rates which are worse than the average.
However, Royal College of Surgeons president, Professor Norman Williams, urged doctors not to block publication of the data. He said ‘patients have a right to know of doctors who are not meeting the standards expected of them’.
I agree with Jeremy Hunt – there needs to be greater transparency in order to understand how surgeons are performing. Patients should be able to access much more useful data about their local services.
I act for many clients who have suffered injury due to negligently performed surgery. Data about their local NHS will now help people make educated choices about where they go for treatment and what to expect.
This is a brave move by the NHS but it is a major step forward in restoring public confidence.
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