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Comment on the NHS Commissioning Board’s planning guidance

18 December 2012

Commenting on the NHS commissioning board’s planning guidance, Professor Norman Williams, President of the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), said:

“We welcome the commitment of the NHS commissioning board to empowering patients by providing more public information about quality of care, particularly outcomes data. This pledge to greater transparency within surgery is one the RCS wholeheartedly supports. The successful publication of outcomes data for heart and vascular surgery has already shown how outcomes can drive standards in the NHS. However, designing ways to measure the outcomes from across surgery that would give credible and meaningful data is extremely complicated and no one size fits all. It is vital that any analysis of surgeons who take on the higher risk patients (such as those with complex health needs like diabetes and respiratory problems) is fair and reflects the complexity of these conditions so as not deter surgeons from treating difficult cases for fear of being penalised. It is imperative that the commissioning board engages with the profession and the College whose expertise can help design and deliver relevant outcome measures.

Furthermore, we welcome any move towards the NHS delivering seven day emergency and elective care. The College recently supported standards for delivering seven day consultant present care, laid down by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, which create the opportunity to deliver some elective as well as emergency care. The College will support clinicians and hospital management in developing ways to deliver more elective surgical care but believes extra resources, together with reshaping of services, are likely to be needed.”


The Royal College of Surgeons of England is committed to enabling surgeons to achieve and maintain the highest standards of surgical practice and patient care. Registered charity number: 212808
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