A Manchester hospital is to become the first in the country to publish performance ratings for all its consultants, allowing patients to rate their doctor and make choices about who provides their care.
From today the University Hospital of South Manchester (UHSM) will publicise “mortality ratings” for each of their heart and lung surgeons online along with patient feedback on the performance of individuals. By the end of the year, information will available on all of the hospital’s 250 consultants.
Information will be regularly updated on the UHSM Foundation Trust’s website. The NHS has pledged to improve transparency and patient choice following the recommendations of the Francis Report into catastrophic clinical failures at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Hospital.
Sir Bruce Keogh, the medical director of NHS England, who has advocated “league tables” for surgeons, said that the “pioneering” scheme was a “great example for the wider NHS”.
“By doing this, organisations will improve the care that they give and patients, their families and their carers can be reassured about quality,” he said.
NHS Trusts have published performance ratings for their heart surgeons for several years. Ben Bridgewater, a cardiac surgeon at UHSM, said it had driven up standards and should now be rolled out across other specialities.
“Mortality for heart surgery, after adjusting for risk and patient characteristics, is about a third of what it was ten years ago,” he told The Independent. “That’s why we think this is the right thing to do.”
For heart and lung surgeons, UHSM patients will be able to see how many and what procedures their surgeon has carried out and the percentage of their patients who died during surgery. For more minor procedures, heart surgeons can also be rated by the number of major adverse effects that follow their surgery or the number of times their patients had to return for repeat operations..
“We know from the cardiac surgery experience that this will drive quality up,” Mr Bridgewater said. “Transparency will also prevent the kind of failures we’ve seen at Mid Staffs and elsewhere, and also gives people choice.”
Patients will be able to see what other people have said about individual surgeons, with each having a score out of 10 for a range of “communication skills” including “speaking clearly”, “explaining things” and “listening carefully”. The Trust worked with research institute Picker Europe to collect patient feedback.
A similar system is likely to be taken up by NHS Trusts around the country over the next two years as the recommendations of The Francis Report come into effect. The health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that, following the example of heart surgeons, he wants surgical survival rates for all surgeons across 10 specialities to be published online.