NHS 'should reveal patient death rates'

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

A HOSPITAL manager who resigned this month after an unprecedented vote of no confidence by senior doctors, yesterday urged the Government to publish secret patient 'mortality rates' for individual consultants in the health service.

John Spiers, former chairman of the Brighton Health Care National Health Service Trust and self-appointed 'patients' champion', said data on mortality rates among doctors' patients had been published in the United States since 1987 and the NHS should follow suit.

He advised GPs to use the 'my daughter' test and consider whether or not they would send their child to the specialists to whom they referred patients, in what was a bitter attack on complacency in the medical profession.

'I would prefer my daughter to wait (for treatment) rather than have quick and ready access to a Doctor Death who kills my kid,' he told a conference on rationing of care in the health service in London yesterday.

Mr Spiers, formerly an adviser to the Prime Minister on the Patient's Charter, unexpectedly attacked effects of the internal market. One of the complaints levelled at him by doctors in Brighton was his fervent support of the NHS changes.

However, treatments were often dictated by budgets, which led to personal tragedies, he told the conference organised by the National Association of Health Authorities and Trusts. He said he had been 'appalled to find evidence of ageism' in Brighton, where a hospital was at the centre of a national row earlier this year after it was claimed that a 73-year-old man had been refused physiotherapy treatment for his arthritis because he was over 65.

Mr Spiers infuriated consultants when he was chairman by writing articles and making speeches about 'meddlesome' and 'dangerous' members of the profession.

Trevor Sheldon, director of the NHS centre at York University, told the conference there was growing evidence of inequity in the NHS at a time when expensive treatments which had not been clinically proven were in widespread use. 'A vast amount of the nation's wealth is directed in certain avenues in preference to others with often little justification.'