Statement on survey of Cardiothoracic surgeons

June 20, 2016

A spokesperson for The Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery said:

‘The Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery has long championed the principle that publication of clinical outcomes improves quality of care. Cardiothoracic surgeons were the first to endorse this and publish their results, having run a register of all major heart operations since 1977.

‘Surgeons are rightly proud of what has been achieved through this approach. The comprehensive collection and feedback of clinical outcomes to members and the public has demonstrated a significant reduction in mortality for adult cardiac surgery since 2003. There is also international benchmarking of our results showing a better risk adjusted mortality for cardiac surgery than the European average. The SCTS is recognised widely as having been at the forefront of innovation and quality improvement in the NHS for the past decade.

‘Mr Samer Nashef’s survey, while only of a small self-selecting group of surgeons, raises useful issues. He rightly points out that transparency is a good thing but it can have unintended consequences. As a Society we are looking at how we can improve the publication of surgeons’ data so it provides more useful information to patients while helping surgeons to not become unduly risk averse. The patient journey involves many professionals and different factors such as hospital facilities – all of which can impact on a patient’s outcomes. This is why we’d also like to see data published in the context of the wider unit.

‘The Daily Telegraph’s claim that the SCTS asked NHS England to ‘abandon’ the policy of consultant outcomes data is incorrect. In January 2015 we wrote to Simon Stevens to ask to discuss NHS England’s strategy on consultant data and how we can manage the possible risks that Mr Nashef has made clear.’