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NHS to publish surgeons' data

New commissioning body for England announces plans for a more patient-centred health service
WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Keith David Barnard

18th December 2012 - From next year the NHS is to widen the amount of data published on individual surgeons, including patient mortality statistics.

It is one of a raft of measures for England announced today by the NHS Commissioning Board. The quango was set up as part of major reforms to the NHS and has just published its planning guidance for 2013-14 which sets out how patients can be put at the heart of what the health service does.

Other measures include investigating how the NHS can provide some routine services such as day surgery at weekends.

To find out more of the Board's vision, read our FAQs.

Why is this plan being published?

The NHS Commissioning Board takes on its full powers from 1st April 2013 and will oversee expenditure of England's £95.6 billion NHS budget for the financial year ahead.

Called 'Everyone counts: planning for patients 2013/14', the document outlines the incentives and levers that will be used to improve services. It is intended as an important step towards the new system for commissioning healthcare in England, in which around 211 local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) led by GPs will control health budgets.

Will patients get a better deal?

One of the guiding principles of the new commissioning approach is that patients should be better informed.

The former health secretary Andrew Lansley frequently used a catchphrase to sum up his vision of the NHS post-reform. "No decision is made about me, without me," went the mantra.

The NHS Commissioning Board wants to see performance data on individual surgeons start to be published from summer 2013 showing survival rates and quality of care for ten specialties including cardiac, vascular and orthopaedic surgery. Publication would become compulsory in 2014-15 to allow comparison across hospitals.

The Board also wants to see:

  • A reduction in health inequalities and ensuring that no community is disadvantaged
  • Treating patients as customers and putting their interests first
  • Giving patients the opportunity to comment about the NHS, with all patients able to comment on services by 2015

Patients will be able to comment on the care they receive thought the ‘Friends and Family Test’. They will be asked the question: "How likely is it that you would recommend this services to a friend or family?" using an ‘extremely likely’ to ‘not at all likely’ scale. The results will be publicly available.

Health service providers are to face a carrot and stick approach to the care and treatment they give patients. Financial incentives will be paid to local clinical commissioning groups when they innovate and improve standards, while sanctions will be in place for when providers fail to deliver. Examples of where health commissioners should use their contracting muscle to penalise certain failings include referral to treatment times (no more than 52 weeks), ambulance handovers (no more than 15 minutes,) a zero tolerance of MRSA infections, and operations cancelled a second time.

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