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RCS comment on the second annual publication of consultant outcomes data

19 Nov 2014

The individual results of around 5,000 consultant surgeons have been published on the MyNHS website (NHS Choices). This year’s publication, which covers 10 specialty areas of surgery, gives patients another route to find out more about an individual surgeon’s practice and the outcomes for their patients after an operation.

The consultant outcomes data, based on national clinical audits, are a way of measuring performance against a set of professional standards such as survival rates, length of stay in hospital following a procedure and repeat operation rates, as well as the number of operations performed. The data, which is presented by different procedures or operations, cover varying measures and time periods, with some audits looking at over three years of data.

The exercise has found that the overwhelming majority of surgeons are performing operations and procedures to the high standards expected by their own professional association. For a second year only a handful of surgeons appear as ‘outliers’ where their results are outside what is expected. In the 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.

Miss Clare Marx, President, Royal College of Surgeons said:

“Patients and surgeons should have honest and open conversations about the likely outcome of their surgery and best treatment options available. Publishing consultant outcomes is just one step for ensuring that dialogue and trust is present.

“This is by no means a quick process. Year on year we will develop our methods for collecting and analysing data so that we are continually improving the quality of care and the outcomes we deliver for our patients.”

The College supports NHS England’s commitment to providing patients with more public information about their care. Surgeons have invested significant time and effort to ensure that the data collected is accurate for their practice. Greater transparency in the NHS and honest conversations with patients are at the heart of improving patient care. Consultant outcomes data is just one way in which the RCS is committed to ensuring that patients receive information and a high quality of care.

Gill Humphrey, Chair of the Royal College of Surgeons Patient Liaison Group, said:

“To patients, the patient-surgeon relationship is very important and consultant outcomes can help build a relationship of trust and openness.

“Patients can be active participants in their care and use consultant outcomes information to help have an informed conversation with their surgeon and discuss the likely outcome and recovery process from their procedure.”

More than 28 surgical procedures are covered in the information, which will be placed in the public domain from Wednesday 19 November 2014 on MyNHS, and on the websites of individual surgical specialty associations. All surgeons who were required to submit data in this process have done so.

Notes to editors

  • Publication of surgeon-level data is, at present, a requirement of NHS England. Many of the surgical specialty associations are UK-wide and may decide to make data available on surgeons working outside of England. This information will be available on specialty association websites. It will be up to the Governments in the devolved nations to decide whether publication should be mandated.
  • The ten surgical areas are: adult cardiac surgery, bariatric surgery, colorectal surgery, head and neck surgery, orthopaedic surgery, thyroid and endocrine surgery, upper gastro-intestinal surgery, urological surgery, vascular surgery and, neurosurgery. The other audits are interventional cardiology, lung cancer and urogynaecology.
  • Most surgical specialities cover a wide range of operations, and at this stage, the published data only covers a limited number of procedures. The selection process takes into account factors such as what procedures are currently covered by audit/registry; how frequently the procedure is undertaken; and whether it is considered a good indicator of skill. For example orthopaedics have chosen to look at hip and knee replacement surgery.

For more information, please contact the RCS press office on:

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