RCS Statement: NCEPOD Study Vindicates RCS Concerns for Higher-Risk Patients

New evidence gathered by the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome & Death (NCEPOD) reveals serious variation in the way different hospitals manage risk for surgical patients resulting in consistently sub-standard treatment in some hospitals. The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has made recommendations for national standards in assessment to avoid patients being exposed to unnecessary risk during their treatment. This study should prompt the Department of Health to begin routine collection and publication of national data for emergency and higher-risk surgery patients.


The RCS identified similar concerns in two separate reports published during 2011 into standards of care for emergency and higher-risk surgical patients. In April, Emergency Surgery: Standards for unscheduled surgical care stated that 'Available data on emergency surgical care are incomplete and fail to demonstrate the variation between the specialties' Further work is required to ensure these data can be collected and analysed effectively.' In September, The Higher Risk General Surgical Patient report identified consultant-led assessment of patients and access to critical care or higher dependency unit beds after surgery as key factors in patient outcomes ' all areas identified by NCEPOD.

Professor Norman Williams, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said: '. The Department of Health has been able to establish good monthly data on waiting lists for years and we have seen improvements as a result. It is now time for government to grasp the nettle and ask hospitals to routinely provide publicly available evidence on how they manage high-risk cases.'

The RCS statement on Emergency Surgery: Standards for unscheduled surgical care from April 2011 can be found here.

The Higher Risk General Surgical Patient report can be found here:

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