Driving up standards of care for patients through publishing surgeons outcomes data
In 2013, surgeons led the way in transparency in the NHS by being the first profession to record and publish data on the outcomes of surgical procedures. Now in its second year, surgeon’s outcomes data covering over 5,000 consultant surgeons for more than 28 procedures across Britain has been published on the NHS choices website for the first time – a considerable achievement for the profession and its commitment to delivering high quality care to patients. There is an on-going drive for greater transparency within the NHS to improve standards and safety and reinforce trust in clinicians and the profession is proud to continue to lead the way in this agenda.
The objective of publishing the data is to drive forward improvements in care and enable patients to understand far more about the nature of a surgeon’s work and their recovery after an operation. For patients, the information shows you the number of times a given procedure has been performed by a surgeon over a year and how close their performance is to the average standard. Patients can now access this information on the My NHS (NHS Choices) website.
The individual specialty data sets cover varying time periods, with some audits looking at over three years of data. Surgeons across the country have willingly worked hard and committed time and effort over the past year to gather and analyse their data in what has not been a small feat to ensure that the data are accurate and reflective of the work that they are doing. The measurements, based on national clinical audits, are a way of measuring performance against a set of professional standards relating to survival rates, length of stay in hospital following a procedure and repeat operation rates, as well as the number of operations performed. Each specialty does a very different type of work, so the measures for each vary so each specialty's data must be looked at on an individual basis.
The exercise has found that the overwhelming majority of surgeons are performing operations and procedures to a high standard set by their own professional surgical specialties. Less than a handful of surgeons, out of over 5,000, appear as ‘outliers’ where their results are significantly different from others. In the extremely rare instance where there is a concern, the specialty association is working closely with the individual and hospital trust in order to understand the reasons behind their data and where necessary ensure support is in place so that patients are receiving a high standard of care.
It is believed that, by revealing what others have achieved in their clinical area, surgeons are more likely to reflect on their practice and be inspired to improve while providing patients with accurate information on their surgeon’s outcomes. You can read more about the surgical specialties, represented procedures, and their expected publication dates on My NHS below: