The following letter was published in The Guardian last week. NSW Health Minister Reba Meagher and others who continue to drag their feet about disclosure of information about the health system here may need a stiff dose of the smelling salts if this crosses their desk.
"The news that surgical mortality rates in England are to be published is a positive development (Report, May 29). But it is not the first time that any government anywhere in the world has released such information. Scotland has already laid claim to that world-first title. Comprehensive surgical mortality data was published in Scotland in 2006 when, following a freedom of information application, I required the health service to disclose the mortality rates of every individual surgeon - not just by hospital unit as is being proposed in England. It is worth recalling that at the time clinicians expressed their concern that the data would be misinterpreted by the public and that surgeons might not carry out high-risk operations for fear of being stigmatised in league tables. Neither of these fears has come to pass. It is a welcome step forward in accountability and transparency to have this type of information proactively published."
Scottish information commissioner