Hospital consultants who refuse to publish patient death rates could face new penalties, the medical director of NHS England has told a weekend paper.
Sir Bruce Keogh told the Sunday Times that he was looking at “a series of inducements penalties” to make sure that this happened.
He also indicated that consultants might find it hard to pass revalidation or receive clinical excellence awards if they failed to publish their outcome data.
Sir Bruce his comments ahead of the publication of a much expanded set out patient outcome measures this week, and said he recognised this might mean that some consultants would stop doing some kinds of work.
“The other thing that is likely, and that will help with quality, is that those surgeons that are just doing a small number of operations will think: ‘I’m not doing that any more’ and pass on their operations to colleagues,” he said.
Sir Bruce practised as a cardiac surgeon before becoming the NHS’ medical director in 2007. He has been a long-term advocate of more transparency in medical practice.
Twenty years ago, he established the National Adult Cardiac Surgical Database promote the collection and publication of information about heart operations. Until last year, heart surgeons remained the only clinical body to publish outcome data down to an individual level.
However, the present government has made it clear that it expects most surgeons to publish such data; a commitment reiterated in the ‘Personalised Health and Care 2020’ IT framework last week.
Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s director of patients and information, and the chair of the National Information Board that published the framework, told EHI Live 2014 that this was essential to build public trust in the health service and its use of information.
The outcome data for around 5,000 consultants should be published on the ‘MyNHS’ section of the NHS Choices website on Wednesday; but the Sunday Times reported that the data for 2,500 consultants will be missing.
My NHS is a joint venture between the Department of Health, NHS England, the Health and Social Care Information Centre, Public Health England and the Care Quality Commission.
It already has indicators for hospitals, local authorities and the performance of public health services, with further data, for example for mental health trusts to follow.
Sir Bruce told the Sunday Times that the direction of travel on transparency was such that consultants needed to understand it was “not going away.”
Sir Bruce, who was briefly the Department of Health’s director general of informatics, has also led the development of the standardised hospital mortality indicator for the NHS.
Following the final report into the Mid Staffs scandal, he led a an inquiry into 14 trusts that were ‘outliers’ on this and other measures, that influenced the Care Quality Commission’s new inspection regime.
He has also backed EHI’s campaign for chief clinical information officers to lead on IT and information issues in the NHS.