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Operation Success Rates Help Patients Choose Treatment

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The NHS has taken a significant step towards greater patient choice with the publication of national operation survival rates.

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

The figures, which are published in a user-friendly format and as raw data, reveal that all hospitals are performing within acceptable guidelines and five hospitals are above average.

The figures are published alongside the Health Informatics Review - a review of how information can be better used across the Department and NHS.

The Health Informatics Review sets out a vision, supported by a number of key proposals, that describe how coverage and quality of information can be enhanced to meet these needs and help transform health and social care and will be followed by a more detailed, technically based Health Informatics Review Implementation Report in the autumn 2008.

Publication of the survival rates immediately puts into action one of the report's key recommendations - to give patients a greater say in the care they receive by extending choice on treatment options. It also builds on the Department's commitment, to enhance quality and choice, which was outlined in the NHS Next Stage Review, published on 30June.

The data, which indicates the success of an operation, is published on the NHS's website, NHS Choices, as part of the 'hospital scorecard', which allow patients to compare hospital treatment options from a range of clinical and non-clinical data such as length of stay and MRSA rates.

NHS Medical Director and interim Director General for Informatics Sir Bruce Keogh said:

"Whilst we are rightly proud of our NHS which offers good, evidence based and innovative clinical services there is a view that we have lagged behind other industries in providing sophisticated IT infrastructure to support NHS staff to deliver a 21st century service which enables to patients engage more fully in their care.

There is a strong appetite in the NHS to develop a coherent informatics infrastructure to address the issues of data transfer and security between multiple organisations using a myriad of different systems in Europe's largest organisation, but this is not going to be easy. To get it right will take time but good information is fundamental to modern healthcare."

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The first data to be published is for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (elective and emergency), elective hip replacements and knee replacements and will be followed in the coming months by a series of clinical outcome data being made available for a wider range of elective and emergency surgery.

Alongside the new data, NHS Choices will publish Health Guides to help manage depression, dementia, diabetes and asthma. Each contains useful information on prevention, diagnosis, treatment and living with long-term conditions.

The Health Informatics Review takes forward the commitments outlined in the NHS Next Stage Review to extend choice and realise the potential of our technology capabilities to enhance healthcare.

The Health Informatics Review Implementation report will set out how the measures identified in the review will be put into practice. These include:

* Developing better systems of securely sharing information across organisational boundaries;

* Developing a 'Myspace' type interface that allows staff to access information about education and training, clinical information and research, and career progression through a single site;

* Piloting systems such as clinical dashboards that allow clinicians to monitor the performance of a service and quality of care by combining many sources of clinical information from the hospital and local health community in single display. It allows health professionals to get a clear picture at a glance of a several indicators of a patient's condition; and

* A renewed focus on reducing the time taken and the resources needed to collect data while ensuring it is used to maximum benefit.

NHS Connecting for Health, which now incorporates NHS Choices, is delivering these key elements of the Review, including the development of clinical dashboards, which will improve the quality of patient care.

Commenting on the outcome of the Health Informatics Review, chief executive of The NHS Information Centre Tim Straughan said:

"We welcome the outcome of the Informatics Review which firmly establishes The NHS Information Centre as the central, authoritative source of health and social care information in England. High-quality, relevant information is crucial to enable the NHS to deliver world class services and to enable patients to make decisions about their health and care. We are delighted the review so clearly establishes our role in both providing and encouraging the availability of such information across the service."