Doctors who opt out of disclosing their performance data should be “named and shamed”, the health secretary has said.

The government plans to publish league tables for ten specialties, such as vascular and orthopaedic surgery, on NHS Choices this summer.

However, it emerged this week that surgeons will not be required to release individual information because of Data Protection Act rules.

NHS England said 4% of surgeons had chosen not to submit data for the tables.

In response, Jeremy Hunt said there was “no valid reason” why surgeons should not participate and that those who refused should be named.

"In an era of public concern over patient safety issues at Mid Staffordshire Hospital, this will be a major step forward in restoring public confidence,” he said.

Data is already published for heart surgery and is credited with improving patient survival rates.

Royal College of Surgeons president Professor Norman Williams said patients had a right to know of doctors who were not meeting the standards expected of them.

“That’s why we need as many surgeons as possible to give their consent to the publication of their individual outcomes results this summer.

"It is important to be open and transparent, and because the process of collecting the data will improve over time and drive up standards,” he added.

However, Professor Williams said it was an issue that not every doctor was involved in the publication programme.

Around 4,000 surgeons in over 20 procedures will be involved which is over half of the consultant surgeons in England. The remaining consultants do not do the particular procedures.

“If the Department of Health decides to name hundreds of doctors who are missing from audit data, they may be wrongly identifying people as withholding consent when in fact they never entered data in the first place,” he said.

The college also explained that some surgeons had delayed giving consent until they knew the data was robust.