The power of comparison can drive up standards

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It has been said that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

But in the case of our health services, we believe patients can never have too much information.

That’s why a new resource is so important.

The MyNHS site formally launched yesterday allows people to log on and compare the performance of their local NHS hospital, their care services and their local authority using up-to-date information.

In a world of statistics and comparison websites that let us see where we can get the best deal at the click of a mouse, now we can find out more about the performance of our local hospital and those who work there.

Search the site and you will find that the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham sees 85 per cent of A&E patients within four hours.

It also shows that out of 1,076 responses, 91 per cent of patients would recommend QA to their friends and family. That is good to hear.

MyNHS also allows patients to find out more about the surgeons who will be performing operations on them, comparing outcomes in different area such as lung cancer, vascular, orthopaedic surgery and bariatric surgery.

Then there are other areas to examine such as food quality, staffing and patient safety.

In a culture of increasing openness, it was time that the workings of the NHS were made more transparent to the people who rely on it for treatment.

Now they will know much more about the services they access and be more informed about the healthcare choices they make.

Of course there is a risk that, with so much data, some of it could be misinterpreted.

Critics say some of the information on the site is ‘crude and misleading’ and some speciality surgeons have warned releasing outcomes could lead to consultants refusing difficult cases.

But it has to be a positive step that we can now better assess the care we receive – and that the power of comparison can help to drive up standards across the NHS.

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