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League tables lead to 'climate of fear'

League tables of GPs could be counter-productive and lead to a 'climate of fear and disaffection', statisticians are warning.

A report from the Royal Statistical Society criticised the 'design, analysis and reporting' of many performance indicators in public services.

It also called for further research on statistics which lead to 'naming and shaming'.

The report noted that publication of 'crude' league tables of the mortality rates of cardiac surgeons in New York caused a rise in death rates.

The Department of Health has said patients will be entitled to know GPs' performance on the quality framework but has denied it intends to produce league tables.

The Royal Statistical Society concluded measuring performance in the NHS could 'lead to the manipulation of data, gaming or fraud by service providers ­ it can inhibit new approaches to service delivery'.

Focusing on 'easily measurable' indicators such as waiting times contradicted medical training, which prioritises cases clinically, the report added.

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