Doctors face penalties for not publishing death rates

Surgeons could be prevented from passing their five year revalidation or miss out on financial bonuses if they fail to disclose the death rates of their patients, according to the medical director of NHS England.

Sir Bruce Keogh has made the announcement days before data on the work of approximately 5,000 surgeons is to be published on the My NHS website. A further 2,500 surgeons do not currently publish death rates of their patients.

Sir Bruce has insisted the publication of data is vital to improving quality of care in the NHS, although critics have claimed the data is not universally useful and might result in some surgeons publishing higher death rates while others cherry-pick easier cases. The Royal College of Surgeons has also claimed its members do not “need to be forced to be open.”

NHS hospitals are also to be ordered to publish survival rates for breast, bowel, lung and prostate cancers from next year. The plans form part of the health secretary’s efforts to improve transparency within the health service.