Final three specialties publish consultant outcomes data

The remaining three of ten specialist surgical societies will publish outcomes data for individual hospital consultants, including mortality rates, from today. This completes the staged ‘pilot’ publication of this data that started in June this year.

It is part of NHS England’s drive for greater transparency and a commitment to providing patients with more information about their treatment to help the NHS drive up quality of care.

Today (13 September) sees the publication of information for upper gastrointestinal cancer surgery and head and neck cancer surgeries. This will be followed by data on bowel cancer surgery on 23 September.

Along with previous reports from seven clinical specialties, this information will be signposted from the NHS Choices website:

Together, the ten sets of data cover operations and procedures carried out by around 3,500 consultants. They show the number of times a consultant has carried out a procedure, mortality rates and whether clinical outcomes for each consultant are within expected limits.

NHS England originally outlined its commitment to publishing this data in its 2012/13 planning guidance ‘Everyone Counts’, in December 2012. The staged publication of the information started in June this year.

Outside of cardiac surgery, it has been the first time that this level of surgical outcomes information has been published and openly viewable online.

Dr Mike Bewick, Deputy Medical Director at NHS England, said: “This has been the start of a major journey towards complete transparency in the NHS.

“Putting information like this into the public domain increases accountability and empowers commissioners to make more informed decisions about the services they buy for their communities.

“Most importantly it drives up quality and standards of care for patients.

“The overall results show that mortality rates for almost all surgeons are within the expected range. But in the majority of cases the key issue is, how will an operation or procedure improve the quality of a patient’s life.

“This is part of a journey towards a culture of complete transparency in the NHS and we need to build on what we have started. As part of this, working with HQIP, we are asking for public feedback on the data and we will be working with patient groups and the specialist societies to inform how we can ensure the data that we publish in the future is as easy to understand as possible for patients and the public.

“I would like to thank surgeons and the surgical specialties who have published these reports for the way they have embraced this important piece of work.”

The reporting of the data was led for NHS England by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP). This was overseen by HQIP Outcomes Publication Director Professor Ben Bridgewater, a practising heart surgeon who leads the successful cardiac consultant-level reporting which paved the way for this work.

Professor Bridgewater said: “As a pilot exercise this has been hugely successful. To have delivered something unique in its breadth of surgeries and geographical coverage in such a short space of time is testament to the clinicians and their representatives who have worked so hard on this. Patients can be clearly reassured about the standards of care they can expect for ten different specialties. The hard work begins immediately to improve this process further.”

To date, over 99 percent of consultants have agreed or not objected to information regarding their practice being published (including none who have objected to their data being published in the two reports today). If a consultant has opted out, they are listed with their reasons for this on the NHS Choices website.

The data will be refreshed annually and reporting of data in this way will be mandatory from 2014/15. Over time, it is expected that the data will include more clinical specialties.

Members of the public are invited to provide their feedback on the information including suggestions for future reporting and can do so by visiting or emailing by 9am on Monday 14 October.