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Surgeons face league table over death rates so patients can choose to have operations with the best specialistsOnline comparisons to be published on NHS Choices website next summerWill include procedures such as hip replacements and weight-loss surgery
00:42 GMT, 19 December 2012
00:42 GMT, 19 December 2012
League tables are to be published to measure the performance of surgeons – including their patients’ survival rates.
From next summer, online comparisons can be made of doctors who specialise in procedures including hip and knee replacements and weight-loss surgery.
NHS officials say it will give patients more power and enable them to choose to have their operation carried out by a top surgeon at another hospital.
Online league tables are to be published detailing the performances of doctors who specialise in procedures including hip and knee replacements and weight-loss surgery (file picture)
But there are concerns that doctors might try to avoid operating on risky patients – such as the elderly or those with underlying illnesses – to keep their death rates low.
Professor Kevin Burnand, from King’s College London, said: ‘I think groups of patients who look bad will be turned down for surgery.’
He also said that doctors who had a ‘bad run’ of luck with patients dying under their care would appear to be performing badly.
Anna Dixon, director of policy at the health think-tank the King’s Fund, said similar issues had been raised when such rankings were introduced in New York.
Sir David Nicholson, chief executive of NHS Commissioning Board, wants to give power to the patient
She said it was important that the performance data took into account whether a surgeon had operated on high-risk patients.
The plans were outlined yesterday by the NHS Commissioning Board, a new organisation tasked with overseeing GPs and hospital care.
By summer, patients will be able to visit the NHS Choices website and compare the performance of doctors specialising in head and neck operations, bariatric – or weight loss, orthopaedic and bowel and stomach procedures.
Sir David Nicholson, chief executive of the board, said: ‘What you need is patients with power, with influence, with information and you need clinicians with resources, the tools, the money to make the change happen.’
Officials also hope it will drive up standards and expose those surgeons who are putting patients at risk.
A spokesman for the British Medical Association, which represents doctors, said: ‘We support measures that will allow patients to have more information about their care and health outcomes.
‘However, there is still more to be done to ensure that data about consultants’ performance is meaningful.
‘Basic mortality figures alone could mislead patients because they fail to take into account other factors that might have contributed to the death of a patient.’