Guest blog by Gail Beer
Today we learn that survival rates for colon surgery vary between hospitals and surgeons and that we as a nation do not perform as well as other countries. There are calls for colorectal surgeons to follow the example of cardiothoracic surgeons and report their outcomes; an action which following the Bristol Inquiry has had a significant and beneficial effect on mortality rates.
While this call is welcome it is a dreadful indictment of the NHS that after 13 years of cardiothoracic reporting we are not reporting outcomes for individual surgeons for all forms of surgery. Neither is the nation demanding to know how competent and safe the surgeon they or their loved ones might be referred to actually is. In our increasingly technological world filled with a wealth of information we are more likely to know the performance of our car than our doctor.
In some other countries performance is rightly or wrongly driven by competition, health insurers and the insured themselves. Our health system does not drive performance using the same levers, but we have no less right to good outcomes that are comparable with other developed nations. There are undoubtedly areas where we outperform the rest of the world and we need to be celebrating our successes.
It is time that all individual surgeons’ outcomes were made publically available and benchmarked for all to see. This should hold no fear for surgeons, NHS Trusts or the private sector, they should welcome such a development that holds them accountable to the public for their outcomes and demonstrates that we are safe in their hands.