Surgeons Urged To Publish Mortality Rates

Surgeons Could Face Penalties If They Do Not Publish Their Mortality Rates

17.11.2014

Surgeons working in the UK are being urged to publish details of how many patients have died in their care, or risk being faced with penalties.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, medical director of NHS England Sir Bruce Keogh has warned surgeons will not pass their revalidation checks that take place every five years if they do not release this data, while they will also miss out on clinical excellence awards, which are a form of financial bonus.

He explained: "If you want to progress with your clinical excellence award, if you have refused to allow your data to be published, then that will affect your progression."

This coming Wednesday (November 19th), approximately 5,000 surgeons will be releasing information relating to how many patients have passed away during or following one of their operations. Data regarding post-surgery complications and lengthy hospital stays will also be revealed, with all of this published on the website MyNHS.

Yet around 2,500 additional surgeons currently working in the UK are not set to publish their mortality rates, raising concerns about why they do not want to release this information.

Therefore, Sir Bruce has warned doctors could face sanctions for withholding these figures, which he acknowledges could force some surgeons to leave the profession, but should lead to care quality improvements in the long term.

He added that this could see surgeons with only a small workload ceasing to operate and instead passing these on to other colleagues who may have more experience.

This is a somewhat significant development for the health service, as until last year, only heart surgeons had to publish data on an individual level, but league tables released in 2013 detailed information regarding nine other specialties as well.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has also warned that surgeons refusing to take part in the publication of such data will be publicly named.

Expert Opinion
Transparency within the NHS and better communication with patients should be a top priority for the national health service, which includes publishing detailed figures concerning care quality and mortality rates. We welcome the decision to implement penalties for those not revealing mortality rates, as it will ensure surgeons are open with patients and those undergoing surgery have all the information they need to make a decision about their treatment.

“We hope that these measures will also improve the quality of care and clinical procedures patients receive, as those regularly found to be making mistakes will be held accountable.”
Julianne Moore, Partner