The NHS has published data for trusts across the country on the survival rates of four different conditions. The data is published today on NHS Choices and is intended to help patients make informed choices about where they get treatnment.

The data for the four common cardiac operations for each trust in England comes from the Healthcare Commission’s published cardiac survival guide.

NHS medical director, Sir Bruce Keogh, said he had directed the data to be published to encourage trusts to focus on their survival rates. “I wanted it published on NHS Choices to send a clear message to the service that we are in the business of measuring quality of care.”

He described the data published as a first iteration, which he hopes will evolve to become more sophisticated than mortality figures. “If we wait for perfection it will take a long time”.

The first data to be published is for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (elective and emergency), elective hip replacements and knee replacements. Over the next few months further cliinical outcome data will be published for a wider range of elective and emergency surgery.

Sir Bruce said that overall the cardiac surgery mortality data showed NHS hospitals were providing very good care to patients, with only limited variation in survival rates. He told a press conference on Thursday he had expected a greater range of variation and steeled himself for some tough conversations with hospitals. “I was pleasantly surprised there was quite so little difference.”

Publication of quality data, such as survival rates, is among the main recommendations of the NHS Health Informatics Review. Such data is described as vital to enable patients to make informed choices about where and how they are treated.

The data is published on the NHS Choices Website as part of the hospital scorecard, which allows patients to compare hospital treatment options from a range of data including length of stay and MRSA rates.

Sir Bruce said the intention was to start measuring quality of care rather than just rely on crude measures of mortality. “I want to start to move into really sophisitcated measures. Real quality is about delivering a good service in a lot of areas.”

For a cardiac survery patient this would include looking at whether a patient received the right antibiotics before surgery; whether certain processes were followed and whether they were discharged with the right drugs. Finally, the process would track them after discharge over a period of time.