Death rates published by London hospital

St George's Hospital in Tooting, London, has published death rates for all of its clinical specialities. The statistics provide details of how its various departments have performed and will increase pressure on the rest of the NHS to follow suit. The performance of individual surgeons and doctors is not revealed in the new statistics, but the hospital already publishes the death rates for individual heart surgeons. The Guardian used Freedom of Information legislation earlier this year to force other hospitals to reveal similar figures.

Senior doctors at St George's stressed that it is not yet possible to compare hospitals directly since a common formula does not yet exist nationally for the risk adjustment of figures which would have to take account of the seriousness of individual patients' conditions.

The British Medical Association said: “We believe it is important that patients have the information they need about doctors treating them. But we are concerned that simply publishing crude figures will be misleading as they are dependent on many factors, importantly an individual’s current health status.”

Prospective patients will be relieved to know that more than 97 per cent of those who enter St George’s for in-patient treatment come out alive.

The death rates can be viewed on the St George's Trust website:

Hospital first to publish death rates (The Guardian, 25 August, 2005)
Go-ahead for league tables of hospital death rate (The Times, 25 August 2005)