Surgeons fear being vilified by release of mortality figures

 

There were fears last night about the scapegoating of successful doctors after the public release of surgical mortality data revealed that a third of patients died under the knife of a respected consultant.

The statistics, relating to more than 450 doctors who perform surgery involving blood vessels, were released yesterday morning – the first in a Department of Health bid to “drive better care”.

Before their publication online, Norman Williams, president of the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), said the publication should not be viewed as a means of “trashing professional reputations”.

Yesterday, one consultant found himself under huge scrutiny and pressure from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s “revolution in transparency”. Simon Payne, a consultant vascular surgeon at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, was ranked bottom in his field in England.

Mr Payne, who graduated from Leicester University Medical School in 1986 and lists his interests as sailing in the Solent and piano playing, performed elective open abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) surgeries.

The procedures, described as “major operations” by the Vascular Society, have an average mortality rate of 4 per cent when patients have open surgery to the abdomen. Those treated by an endovascular repair – a stent graft inserted through the groin – have a 1 per cent mortality rate, on average.

But Mr Payne’s patients, who write on his website of his “lovely way” and relaxing manner, had a mortality rate of 31.3 per cent in 16 surgeries. “It’s ridiculous,” said one of his colleagues yesterday.

Despite repeated attempts, Mr Payne was unavailable for comment. In a statement, Ursula Ward, the trust’s chief executive, said: “This surgeon should not be on the Vascular Registry for this operation as he has not undertaken this form of surgery since 2011.” She added that Mr Payne had stopped performing the surgical procedure after shoulder surgery, adding that his “outcomes fell within the acceptable limit”. By 3pm yesterday the online data had been changed, with Mr Payne’s name removed.

Six surgeons refused to have their data included: Richard Bird, who works for Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust, Rob Lonsdale from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Hull Royal Infirmary’s Peter McCollum, Leszek Wolowczyk from Tameside Hospital, North Manchester General Hospital consultant Manmohan Madan, and Patrick Kent, understood to work at Spire Health in Leeds.

Their reasons for abstention included objections against data quality, the way figures are “risk adjusted”, and opposition to having their data in the public domain. All six perform within the “expected range”, health officials said. The Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has performed relatively few of the AAA operations but has among the highest mortality rates with 14.3 per cent. It has two consultants, Irfan Akhtar and Khalid Makhdoomi, with mortality rates of 22.2 and 12.5 per cent respectively after performing a combined 25 AAAs.

Dr Nabeel Ali, the trust’s medical director, said the figures were  “historical” with the vascular surgical procedures no longer being performed. He said: “The apparently high mortality rates quoted reflect the small number of patients operated upon.”

Speaking yesterday, an RCS source said that the first tranche of data had failed to expose failing surgeons, adding that data published tomorrow and on Monday would be likely to reveal “outlier figures” of unusually high mortality rates.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: On behalf of a successful academy i...

Investigo: Finance Business Partner

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in providing ...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - West London

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: WEST LONDON - An excellent new opportunity wit...

Recruitment Genius: Florist Shop Manager

£8 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A Florist Shop Manager is required to m...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project