Make NHS records public10th February 2008
The Independent's leading article supports Bernard Ribeiro's assertion that all surgeons should publish their clinical data.
The president of the Royal College of Surgeons has made a "brave" suggestion. It is not a common occurrence for a person at the top of a professional body to call for "more transparency".
His words will most likely not be met with much favour from the 6,000 surgeons in Britain.
However, Dr Ribeiro's proposals are an "excellent idea". Data on heart operations is already made public and therefore information regarding other operations should also be published.
To do this will empower patients rather than doctors. Patients will only be able to "exercise genuine choice" when they have information to hand about the surgeons available to them.
The publication of data should not be limited to surgeons - information about all doctors should be made available.
The idea that "all medical practitioners are, by their very nature, competent and caring individuals" and patients should not challenge them is wrong. "Malpractice" does exist and is often "undetected".
As Mr Ribeiro stated: "Trust comes with information. The patient who has information will trust the doctor."
Patients need to be provided with the right data and then will be able to decide for themselves.
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