Today sees the publication of the first set of new benchmarking data for surgeons in the NHS. Since the crisis in children’s heart surgery in the late 1990s, surgeons in this speciality have had their performance monitored, and this data has been made publicly available. This process is now being applied across other specialisms, with data on vascular surgeons being released this morning.
Children’s heart surgeons have been convinced over the last decade that sharing such data has led to a significant improvement in performance. They identify this as having been achieved by a process of continuous improvement, informed by the data, but also driven by public and peer pressure. But benchmarking is not without challenges in this field. A small minority of surgeons have not agreed to their performance data being released. They are mainly concerned that the benchmarking process is too crude to take into account the complexities of surgery, which includes a great range of patients being treated and a wide variety of procedures. Whilst the data is adjusted to take these uncontrollable factors into account, some remain to be convinced.
If you are interested in seeing how the data is presented, it can be found on the NHS Choices website.