RCS comment on the upcoming publication of individual surgeons' outcomes data
16 Nov 2014
Commenting on the upcoming publication of individual surgeons’ outcome data, Miss Clare Marx, President of the Royal College of Surgeons said:
‘This is the second year that the NHS will publish, on-line, the outcomes of operations carried out by around 5,000 consultant surgeons. British surgeons are leading the world in this open sharing of data. It is a considerable achievement for medicine and one which other countries look at with envy.
‘The published data is based on that collected by national clinical audits in different surgical specialties. These audits look at a large range of factors that govern the outcomes of surgery, such as the complexity of the case, the patients' age and other existing medical conditions. The results for the majority of the audits are risk-adjusted to allow for those different factors.
'11 different surgical specialties are covered in this year's publication. There are 2 non-surgical outcomes and some 28 operations or procedures. The RCS would like to see this expanded to other areas of medicine that directly interface with surgical patients, such as diabetes care.
‘Around 2,500 surgeons do not contribute to these current audits as their work does not include this sort of surgery or patient care - it is not that they have anything to hide. The NHS has decided to use only the current 13 audits for this year. Surgery depends on the entire team and the structure in which surgeons work. The RCS and Specialist Surgical Societies would therefore like to see further publication of data at a unit or team level.
‘Surgeons do not need to be forced to hand over results. Surgeons participate in audit as part of their professional practice. Audit is part of the five year revalidation by the General Medical Council, the process by which all doctors are required to demonstrate they are up to date and fit to practise. It is conducted locally within the hospitals in which the surgeon work as well as nationally.
‘All patients can, and do, discuss with their surgeons the likely outcome from their surgery, including their chances of dying. It is part of the professional nature of our work that we willingly discuss our outcomes with patients. To suggest that we would need to be forced to be open is utterly misleading.’
1. 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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