Hospitals providing care to NHS patients will be required to publish information on the performance of individual consultant surgeons working across 10 specialties by summer 2013.

In its instructions to clinical commissioning groups the NHS Commissioning Board has said trusts will have to publish the data - including survival rates - on their websites, allowing members of the public to make comparisons between surgeons. The requiement will be included in the NHS Standard Contract.

The surgery specialities affected are adult cardiac surgery; interventional cardiology; vascular surgery; upper GI surgery; colorectal surgery; orthopaedic surgery; bariatric surgery; urological surgery; head and neck surgery; and thyroid and endocrine surgery. The Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership will develop the methodolgies which will allow the data to be compared, once adjusted for case mix.

The Society of Cardiothoracic Surgery has been publishing surgical outcomes data since 2001 in response to the findings of the Bristol heart surgery inquiry - but few other speciailties have followed.

The British Medical Association has warned against “surgery league tables” claiming it could put surgeons off taking on complex cases in case the outcomes effected their position. BMA chairman Mark Porter 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 data about consultant 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.”

Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS medical director, has said outcome data will force surgeons to improve their performance. Professor Norman Williams, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, has backed the move.