NJR Surgeon and Hospital Profile

Frequently Asked Questions

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1. Why is this data published?

There is an ongoing drive for greater transparency within the NHS to improve standards and safety, and reinforce trust in doctors and surgeons. As part of this, under the 'Everyone Counts' initiative, NHS England has asked thirteen surgical and medical specialties, including orthopaedics, to share their data publically.

This is the eighth year that orthopaedics has published this information and the refreshed and additional information in Surgeon and Hospital Profile is in response to this request. It is intended to empower patients by giving them accurate data about the orthopaedic surgery care provided in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the States of Guernsey.

NJR's Surgeon and Hospital Profile allows patients, their friends, family and carers to view surgeon specific data and to make comparisons between hospitals in their local area. This is intended to help patients find information to help them make decisions about their care and their surgery.

The NHS England initiative is encouraging joint replacement patients to seek out this information in advance of surgery so that they are able to discuss it with the surgeon and get a full picture of his or her practice in the context of the care delivered by the whole healthcare team at the hospital.

2. What is joint replacement surgery and is it safe?

Hip, knee, ankle, elbow and shoulder joint replacements have become common and highly successful operations that bring many patients improved mobility and relief from pain. More than 200,000 of these operations take place in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the States of Guernsey every year. It is a procedure with very low mortality.

There is limited data available on which to make international comparisons, but the limited evidence we have suggests that this surgery is as safe here as in any other country. The fact that England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the States of Guernsey have an established National Joint Registry to monitor the quality of joint replacement implants, hospitals and surgeons is a mark of quality and a commitment to improving care at all times for the benefit of patients.

A wide range of implants can be used in the joint replacement operations that are carried out. This is where the NJR helps, monitoring the performance of these implants as well as the effectiveness of different types of surgery. The overall aim is to improve clinical standards and outcomes for the benefit of patients, surgeons, healthcare professionals and the wider orthopaedic community.

3. What is the National Joint Registry?

The National Joint Registry (NJR) for England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the States of Guernsey collects information on hip, knee, ankle, elbow and shoulder joint replacement surgery and monitors the performance of joint replacement implants, hospitals and surgeons. It was set up in 2002 by the Department of Health and Welsh Government. Northern Ireland joined in 2013, the Isle of Man in 2015 and the States of Guernsey in 2019.

NJR mission statement:

'The purpose of the National Joint Registry for England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the States of Guernsey is to collect high quality and relevant data about joint replacement surgery in order to provide an early warning of issues relating to patient safety. In a continuous drive to improve the quality of outcomes and ensure the quality and cost effectiveness of joint replacement surgery, the NJR will monitor and report on outcomes, and support and enable related research.'

More can be found at www.njrcentre.org.uk/

4. How is data collected?

Patients receiving joint replacement surgery are invited by their hospital to consent for their personal details to be recorded in the NJR (name, address, NHS number/national patient ID). The hospital will then upload details of patients receiving joint replacement surgery through an electronic data capture system, which includes details of the patient, the operation, the surgeon and the implants used.

If the patient receives any future revision surgery (where the implanted joint is replaced due to loss of function, for example), these records are linked in order to measure the time between the first-time or primary surgery and the revision operation.

Patients should always be given additional information before they consent via the NJR Patient Consent Form. Please click here to read the NJRs Patient Information Leaflet.

Other nationally collected data sets are then linked to the NJR data in order to measure other outcomes, including death following surgery within 90 days.

5. How accurate and complete is the data?

The data represents that data entered by each hospital into the NJR. Whilst the NJR takes steps to prevent errors, by validation at the point of data entry, it is possible for data entry errors to occur.

The accuracy and validity of the data relies heavily on the diligence of Trusts and surgeons entering all primary and revision operations. It is the responsibility of the surgeon, hospital team and Trust/Local Health Board/Provider to make sure that all cases are registered and accurate. It is mandatory for cases to be registered, termed as ‘compliance’ with the NJR. The NJR measures and monitors the proportion of cases recorded and compares this to the expected number of cases (from other data sources). This is termed ‘compliance’ with the Registry.

The NJR encourages and supports all hospitals in achieving full compliance through its NJR Compliance Officers. Compliance with the NJR is measured at a national level and Trust-/Local Health Board-level.

The NJR does not currently have a way of cross-checking hospitals in Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, the States of Guernsey or the independent sector to ensure all of the relevant procedures are submitted. This is why there are no compliance figures relating to these hospitals.

The compliance rate is presented for each hospital in England and Wales (at Trust-/Local Health Board-level) as part of this information found in Surgeon and Hospital Profile. The NJR defines the best practice for hospitals as being 95% data submission and above.

Surgeons are advised to regularly check to ensure data held by NJR are accurate. Surgeons who do not already have a username and password can find out how to register for the service on the Clinician Feedback website. Surgeons have been invited to review and check their individual data prior to this publication.

6. Why can't I access information on some surgeons? Which surgeons are included?

Consultant surgeons in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the States of Guernsey, who have undertaken one or more hip, knee, ankle, elbow or shoulder procedures between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2020 are listed on the website, under the hospitals in which they are reported as working. If there is no profile for an individual surgeon, or an area of their joint replacement practice (e.g. knee) does not appear, it is likely to be because of concerns about the accuracy of the data originally supplied to the NJR. It has, therefore, been decided not to publish this surgeon's data.

7. Is it only consultant surgeons listed?

Yes, only Consultants in Charge are included for publication. All joint replacement procedures are overseen by a Consultant in Charge and they have responsibility for the care the patient receives. However, the Consultant in Charge of the operation is not necessarily the operating surgeon.

8. Do you cover surgeons in the private sector?

Yes. All surgeons who have undertaken a hip, knee, ankle elbow or shoulder joint replacement procedure between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2020 will be included in the analysis. All the hospitals in which they have worked during this period will be listed. The volumes of NHS and private practice will not be disclosed; only a total volume will be published.

9. How do I interpret the number of operations (practice profile)?

Practice profiles show the total number and type of procedures overseen by the Consultant in Charge for the period 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 (12 month profile) and 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2020 (36 month profile), as recorded in the NJR. Procedures are attributed to a surgeon where the surgeon is the Consultant in Charge of the operation but not necessarily the operating surgeon.

Procedures recorded against a surgeon may have been undertaken in any of the hospitals in which the surgeon has practised, and includes both NHS- and privately-funded activity. This means that patients are looking at the total practice for the surgeon in the time periods presented.

Activity is also shown alongside the national average (mean) number of procedures of each type undertaken over the same time periods.

10. How do I interpret the 90-day mortality Funnel Plot?

This graph shows data on the proportion of patients who die within 90-days of first-time (primary) joint replacement surgery in the form of a Funnel Plot. A Funnel Plot analysis means that each surgeon can be compared after important risk adjustments are made for patient characteristics that affect outcomes of surgery, for example, age group and general health prior to surgery (excluding the joint problem being addressed).

Each surgeon is represented by a blue dot on the graph. On each profile, the surgeon you are reviewing will be highlighted as an orange triangle. All those under the top red line have a mortality rate in line with expectation.

Progression along the horizontal (x) axis means that the surgeon has done more operations and/or operations on patients that are at a higher risk of death such as older or elderly patients. Progression along the vertical (y) axis means the surgeon has had more deaths. Those surgeons that appear above the top red line have a higher than expected mortality rate. Those on the central (green) horizontal line have had exactly the expected number of deaths taking into account the types of patients they operate on and number of operations. Surgeons either side of the central green line but below the upper red line have had a level of mortality that is within the expected range.

11. What is risk adjustment?

Outcome indicators (mortality and revision) are 'risk adjusted' to take account of the fact that different surgeons may operate on higher-risk or lower-risk patients (e.g. because of the overall health condition of the patient population they work with). Risk adjustment allows surgeon and hospital data to be adjusted to show what the outcome would have been had each surgeon operated on the average patient. Case-mix adjustment is not precise and some differences in rates may be the result of random events.

12. What happens if a surgeon or hospital with a high mortality rate is identified?

The role of the NJR Surgical Performance Committee is to ensure that, at the earliest stage, concerns about clinical performance of hospitals and surgeons is highlighted and communicated to those concerned in order to trigger a local audit. The NJR Surgical Performance Committee has been carrying out this role since 2008.

It is important to emphasise that the identification of a potential outlier surgeon/hospital does not mean that performance is poor as many other contributing factors may have an influence, for example, the type of patient operated on and incomplete provision of data to the National Joint Registry. All, or a combination, of these factors have been seen to contribute to potential outlier performance being identified in some cases.

13. Why can't we see a league table of all the surgeons?

The information on the surgeons has been presented as a 'funnel plot', which we feel is the best way to portray this information. Deaths following orthopaedic surgery are a rare event. One surgeon may have a death in his or her first 10 patients while another has 90 patients and only one death - their mortality rates would look very different, but the surgeon with 10 patients may have 80 more cases with no more deaths. It is important that the presentation of this information reflects this. We also do not feel that it is helpful to patients to portray one surgeon as being better than another, when there are many factors that can influence mortality, particularly the health of the patient.

14. What should I do if I am concerned about my surgeon?

If you are already undergoing treatment or have surgery booked in the near future, we suggest you talk to your surgeon about this. He or she can talk to you about their data, and they can explain more about their expertise and any factors that may have influenced their data.

You can also talk to your GP and you can ask to be referred to a different surgeon if you continue to be concerned.

15. My hospital is showing a ‘worse than expected’ result. Should I ask for more information and is it a concern?

Yes, ask for more information. Your GP and/or your healthcare team at the hospital should be able to provide further information as to the numbers and results of procedures carried out locally. Importantly, this might include local context for example, additional information on the specific types of procedures or the types of patients that are treated.

The hospital will be aware of the results shown through this service and receive regular, detailed information on their data that is held and analysed by the NJR. Using these results, the hospital will normally start a period of review to identify the reasons why it may have been identified as outside the expected range of performance. Sometimes this may be a result of not providing the NJR with all of the relevant information for the analysis.

Statistics should not, on their own, be taken as a guide to the standards of a hospital and the care you would receive. However, if you have any doubts or questions, speak with your GP, your surgeon and healthcare team at the hospital.

Note on hospital revision rate information.

It is important to note that the data shown is a snapshot in time of the relative performance of this hospital. A hospital’s results may fluctuate over time and get progressively better or worse, reflecting the types of procedures they carry out and/or the types of patients that they treat among other, local factors including whether the hospital is providing a full and accurate submission of data to the NJR.

16. Where should I go as a patient for more information?

More information on the work of the NJR and the data it contains can be found at www.njrcentre.org.uk. and in the latest NJR annual report available at reports.njrcentre.org.uk/. NJR Public and patient guides which include further FAQs about the NJR and a summary of the most recent joint replacement information by joint type are also available from this website.

17. I'm a surgeon, where should I go for more information?

Surgeons wishing to check their data can do so through the NJR Clinician Feedback System. Surgeons who do not already have a username and password can find out how to register for the service on the Clinician Feedback website.

You can contact the NJR Centre using the following methods:

Telephone: 0845 345 9991

Email: enquiries@njrcentre.org.uk

More information for surgeons on this initiative can be found on the British Orthopaedic Association's website.
18. What is the NJR's Quality Data Provider award?

The ‘NJR Quality Data Provider’ award scheme (QDP) is designed to offer hospitals a blueprint for reaching patient safety standards through National Joint Registry (NJR) compliance and to reward those who have met targets.

One of the targets which hospitals are required to complete is compliance with the NJR’s mandatory national audit aimed at assessing data completeness and quality within the registry. NJR targets also include having a high level of patients consenting for their details to be included in the registry and for demonstrating timely responses to any alerts issued by the NJR in relation to patient safety concerns, if necessary.

Hospitals that achieved QDP status have the award’s logo displayed on their NJR Surgeon and Hospital Profile page. The scheme benefits hospitals and the NJR by helping to recognise and reward best practice, to increase engagement and awareness of the importance of quality data collection, and to help embed the ethos that better data ultimately equals better care.

To find out more about the NJR:

Visit our website at www.njrcentre.org.uk
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