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First batch of surgeon data revealed

Source BBC News@ tienganhvui.com


Surgeons operatingOnly heart surgeons have published individual performance data so far


The first wave of new performance data for individual surgeons in England is being published in what is being hailed as a historic moment for the NHS.


Vascular surgeons have become the first of a new group of nine specialities to publish the information, including death rates.


It will appear on the NHS Choices website later. The other groups will follow in the coming weeks.


But the move has been overshadowed by some surgeons refusing to take part.


They were able to do this because of data protection laws, although earlier this month Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned that those refusing to take part would be publicly named.


Just six out of nearly 500 vascular surgeons, who specialise in procedures on the arteries and veins, including stents, have opted out.


Nonetheless, the move to publish this data is being viewed as a significant milestone.


To date, individual performance data has only been published for heart surgeons.


But for years there has been debate about whether other areas of medicine should follow.


The publication of surgery-specific data was first called for in 2001 by Prof Sir Ian Kennedy, who chaired the inquiry into the excessive number of deaths of babies undergoing heart surgery in Bristol.


'Difficult and complex'

But some doctors have been resistant to widening publication of data for eight surgical specialties and cardiology, as there is a fear that it may give a misleading impression.


Those doctors who take on the most difficult and complex cases may appear to be performing badly, when in fact they could be the leading specialists in their field.


The specialities taking part account for about 4,000 surgeons, more than half the workforce.


Alongside mortality rates, the data includes information on other aspects such as length of stay in hospital after a procedure.


Prof Norman Williams, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said: "This is an historic moment for surgery, and I'm enormously proud of what surgeons up and down the country have achieved.


"It has been a difficult and complex undertaking carried out in a short timescale but we see this as the beginning of a new era for openness in medicine.


"It is early days, but it will change for the better the nature of the bond between patient and surgeon, which is based on both openness and trust."


The college said that overall it looked as if more than 99% of doctors had agreed to the release of the data this summer with fewer than 30 expected to resist.





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