Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has formally launched a new website that will allow patients to pit the performance of local NHS services against each other.

MyNHS, which is hosted by NHS Choices, makes available a wide range of easily searchable performance indicators for public dissection, in the spirit of openness, transparency and greater choice.

Patients are now able to search outcomes of consultants, to help them gain a clearer picture of hospital surgeons’ mortality rates and whether fall within the expected range.

But while voicing support for the publication of surgical outcomes, the Federation of Surgical Specialty Associations said it has “misgivings” about the release of individual surgeon’s crude outcome data which, it claims, can be “misleading and cause unnecessary concern and reputational damage”.

It also points out that evidence shows that publication of individual data is to encourage “risk-averse behaviour”, which “is not in the best interests of patients”, and suggests data should only be published “after appropriate investigation of any outliers”, i.e. those outside the expected range.

Expanding data

From early December patients will also be able to see the Care Quality Commission’s risk rating for GPs, and the site will be expanded with more data sets in future, including one- and five-year cancer survival rates for NHS trusts.

“The NHS has shown leadership and ambition in its approach to transparency by publishing such a wide range of information on quality and performance,” noted Past President of the Royal College of Surgeons, Professor Norman Williams, adding that “this kind of breadth of information will help to continually drive up standards”.

The government is looking to go even further on this, with plans to consult on whether the NHS Constitution should include explicit rights for patients and the public to have clear and comparable data about the organisations providing their care, Hunt also told delegates at the Foundation Trust Network conference today (Nov 19).