By the end of summer 2013 patients will be able to measure the performance of surgeons online through the NHS Choices website in a new league table of death rates.
Under new rules hospitals will have to publish how many patients die under the care of each consultant following operations.
From next summer, patients will be able to visit the NHS Choices website and make online comparisons of doctors who specialise in a range of procedures, including head and neck operations, weight loss surgery, orthopaedic and bowel and stomach surgery.
The data will become a contractual obligation from 2014/15. The guidance document has been issued by the new NHS Commissioning Board, which takes control of the health service from next April.
Officials hope the new "league table" will drive up standards and expose patients who are putting patients at risk, with the board describing the move as a “ground-breaking step”.
However, there are concerns that doctors may try and avoid operating on risky patients to keep their death rates low and maintain their position in the league table.
A spokesman for the British Medical Association, which represents doctors, said: “We support measures that will allow patients to have more information about their care and health outcomes.
“However, there is still more to be done to ensure that data about consultants’ performance is meaningful.
“Basic mortality figures alone could mislead patients because they fail to take into account other factors that might have contributed to the death of a patient.”
The NHS Commissioning Board is also looking at proposals for the NHS to move towards routine services being available seven days a week.
One of the benefits of having private health insurance is the ability to choose your top private consultant or specialist.
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