Patients in Scotland could be given greater access to mortality rates for surgery teams under proposals to be put forward by consultants.
Rab Hide, chair of the British Medical Association's Scottish hospital medical services committee, has suggested 'there should be outcome measures published in relation to team activities in particular specialties'.
In a proposal to go before the full board of the Scottish BMA next Thursday, he describes this as 'a logical development of audit'.
Mr Hide said publishing clinical outcome indicators on a team basis made more sense than singling out individual doctors and nurses because most surgery was a team activity.
However, he said there was a suggestion that the outcomes of individual surgeons should be made available by trusts 'if individuals wish to know'.
Mr Hide said: 'I don't believe most doctors are being dragged kicking and screaming toward this. We have asked for the proper system to be put in place, which would help in analysing outcomes and taking into account various factors which may be involved. But if that goes ahead then we would be happy for this proposal to be accepted. '
A spokesperson for the Association of Community Health Councils for England and Wales said: 'This move is enormously welcome and we believe that it should be spread out nationwide as soon as possible. This was a key part of our submission to the Bristol heart inquiry. '
Although not wishing to be drawn on why English consultants seem reluctant to see the publication of such figures, Mr Hide conceded that, 'there is some evidence that there is an unwillingness to pursue this'.
In Scotland, death rates have been published on a trust-by-trust basis since 1993 in the annual Scottish audit of surgical mortality. This year it took the unprecedented step of naming and shaming seven trusts it felt were not performing as they should. Publishing the results of surgical team outcomes is seen as a logical development of this idea, which has been welcomed by the Scottish Association of Health Councils. Director Pat Dawson said: 'Giving patients more information to help them to judge for themselves the quality of care they are receiving can only be a good thing. '
But a spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said there were difficulties in gathering the relevant information. It would prefer to build on existing systems to 'evolve a culture in the NHS where performance is continually monitored and information fed to the centre so that improvements in quality can constantly be made'.
Katherine Murphy, deputy director of press and public awareness for the Patients Association, said: 'The more information the patients have, the better informed they are. This is the first step. '