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Keogh hails publication of new surgical mortality data as “major step forward” for transparency

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 19 November 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6981
  1. Matthew Limb
  1. 1London

Bruce Keogh, medical director of NHS England, this week defended the publication of new mortality data for surgeons in 13 specialties against claims that it would deter surgeons from taking on high risk patients.

Keogh described the process as a “major step forward in NHS transparency” that would drive up standards of care. He said, “This is about demonstrating that surgery in this country is as good as anywhere in the western world and that, in some specialties, we know it is better.” He said that the NHS was committed to expanding publication of data, describing it as “a quality improvement journey that we can share with the public.”

However, a surgeons’ leader has attacked the “crude” way in which the new data were being published. John MacFie, president of the Federation of Surgical Specialty Associations, said that publication of data on individual surgeons was already deterring some doctors from taking on high risk cases. He told The BMJ, “There is no doubt that anecdotally it is affecting surgeons’ performance, and I’m worried that patients might suffer because of it. It is particularly the case with younger surgeons—they are now worried and …

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