MPs query NHS league tables

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The Government's obsession with league tables is to be challenged by a Labour-dominated select committee which will investigate whether they are useful or not.

The Government's obsession with league tables is to be challenged by a Labour-dominated select committee which will investigate whether they are useful or not.

League tables for hospitals including death rates for surgical units have infuriated doctors, who claim that they do not give a fair comparison of their work. The British Medical Association has warned that league tables for the NHS also risk distorting health-service care to perform well in the Government's statistics, rather than in coping with real-life patients.

Headteachers have disputed the value of national league tables on the best-performing schools, graded by academic successes, which are intended as a guide to parents on where to send their children.

The Commons public administration committee, chaired by Labour MP Tony Wright, is expected to take evidence from headteachers, doctors and other critics of the league tables as part of an investigation into whether they are useful or not. This comes as a private organisation, Dr Foster, prepares to break new ground in publishing more NHS league tables. Having published its own tables for death rates under surgical units in the NHS, it is to publish fresh league tables for complementary therapists, care homes, GPs, fertility services and dentists.

Dr Foster is combining with the Society of Cardiothoracic Surgeons to publish a heart-disease guide for best hospitals. The SCTS's own league table shows the highest death rates were in specialist heart units such as Harefield Hospital, with 6 per cent of its patients dying after surgery, and Papworth (5 per cent), but they handle some of the most difficult cases.

The lowest death rates include Bristol Royal Infirmary, which caused the controversy over high death rates, Leeds Infirmary and Swansea Morrison Hospital, all with 2.5 per cent fatalities.

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