Mortality rates for some surgical procedures at National Health Service (NHS) hospitals in the UK could be published on the internet within months, it has been indicated.
Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS medical director with responsibility for openness, said the data could be on the NHS Choices website by the end of September.
It would make Britain the first country in the world to publish death rates in a way which could expose gaps in performance between different hospitals and guide patients on where they would like to receive major surgery.
The Department of Health has confirmed that work is going on into how data on mortality rates could be better used, but said that there is no timetable for their publication and no decision on what information would be made public.
A spokeswoman said the information is not intended to be used to set targets or manage performance, but is an information resource for NHS professionals seeking to improve their own results.
“The primary reason is for clinicians to peer-review themselves and their teams and improve the quality of care they provide,” she said.
The Guardian newspaper has reported that the department is initiating a debate with NHS trusts about 50 performance indicators which they used to measure the effectiveness of their teams.
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