My NHS – creating transparency or muddying the waters?

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My NHS is an NHS database published with the intention of improving transparency within the NHS.

Whilst this may be seen as another step in the right direction in terms of publishing data on healthcare organisations and some consultants, what does the information really tell a patient who, for example is about to be admitted to hospital for knee replacement surgery?

The online database has today been updated to show details of “Consultants Outcome Data”.

Even if your named consultant has submitted the data required, whilst you may want to be reassured that the number of patients who have died following such surgery is within the lower range, you probably also want to know how many patients didn’t need a revision of that first operation within, say, 5 years. The data provided does not tell you that.

Cleanliness of hospitals is a key feature in this data generally. That is a useful indicator but what the individual may like to know is whether the ward and operating theatre they are being admitted to next week will be infection free and have effective infection control at the time of being admitted to hospital.

Louise Austin, a specialist clinical negligence solicitor commented on the limitations of the My NHS database, “The stats for Colchester General Hospital look good based on this database with high patient satisfaction figures. The My NHS published data certainly does not reflect the reported 563 serious incidents in that Hospital over the last two years”.

“There is a note to say that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found it requires improvement but nothing about the recent report that the Hospital had failed a surprise CQC inspection”.

“I think the published data for Colchester demonstrates the hollowness of the data in terms of telling anyone anything useful about the treatment providers and is in stark contrast to current events at the Hospital.”

The data does contain a very insightful statistic which measures whether members of staff would recommend a hospital for treatment. Locally, Weston General Hospital in Weston-Super-Mare was rated among the worst and Warminster and Shepton Mallet were among the best.

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