Heart surgeons to be ranked

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HEART DOCTORS are to be ranked against each other for the first time in league tables which record their medical success rates and which will be available to patients.

The move follows recent scandals which have tarnished the image of the profession.

Frank Dobson, Health Secretary, has already told hospitals to publish the results of care in heart units. St Thomas' and Guy's hospitals in London are taking this further by assessing individual doctors on how many patients suffer complications before or after surgery.

If problems are discovered, the surgeon will be told and either stopped from performing the procedure or put under supervision, said Brian Ayers, medical director of St Thomas' and Guy's hospital trust.

"We have one of the best cardio-thoracic units, but we want to reassure patients that we have weeded out anyone who does not perform," he said.

A British Medical Association spokeswoman said: "The principle is fine as long as the doctor explains the figures properly to patients and compares them with collective national figures."

An investigation into three doctors at Bristol Royal Infirmary found that 29 babies out of 53 died after heart operations. Two doctors were struck off and a third was banned from operating on children for three years.