The Ministry of Health is unable to say what the public will
be able to glean from information to be stored on a new
national register of cardiac surgery incidents.
In Britain from next week the public will be able to access
raw data surgeon by surgeon, including survival rates, but
that level of transparency is not planned in New Zealand.
Ministry of Health cardiovascular disease and diabetes
national programme manager Karen Evison said a register with
details of cardiac operations was under design. At present
cardiac surgeons were not able to compare their performance
with those of colleagues, unless a formal audit was carried
''There's just no system that exists currently that enables
them to find that information out. There's just no national
way of collating [or] holding that information,'' Mrs Evison
The register's governance group would decide what reports
could be drawn from it, and how these could be used.
''I don't at this point see it as being a league table like
the health targets, for example.''
Access to the register would be tightly controlled to comply
with privacy codes, she said.
Asked why New Zealand appeared to lag behind Britain, Mrs
Evison said New Zealand was on the same track, and the model
for the new register was taken from an English provider.
Private cardiac surgeons would be asked to contribute their
surgical outcomes to the database, but they could not be
compelled, Mrs Evison said.
The register should be operating by the end of this year, and
decisions would be made on what reports would be generated
from it. Dunedin cardiac surgeon Richard Bunton said public
access to information needed to be handled carefully or it
could be misleading.
''One of the main issues is how to present the data in a
''For example, if you do 100 complex operations and someone
else does 100 simple operations then the surgeon doing the
simpler cases will have a lower mortality - which might
appear to be good - but in actual fact might be worse,'' he
said in an email.