Release of cancer figures marks an era of open data
“Patients will be able to compare how well each GP performs in saving the lives of people with cancer after the government announces the release online of a new wave of data. Survival rates within every practice in England and Wales will be available, along with details on how many patients are urgently referred to cancer consultants and the number of patients they successfully diagnose. The figures, released as part of the ‘open government’ agenda, will be updated regularly as they change. At the same time, data about primary care trusts will be released, allowing patients to compare survival rates in different parts of the country. Ministers believe the radical move will drive up standards of care as people will be able to see variations between GP practices and turn their backs on those whose performance has cost lives. More than 250,000 people in England are diagnosed with cancer every year and around 130,000 die from the disease, some unnecessarily after doctors fail to act with sufficient haste. The information will be published by the National Cancer Intelligence Network at the end of July, but will be announced on Thursday when the coalition publishes its wider plans on open government. Already 9,000 datasets have been released on the government's website, data.gov.uk, covering health, transport, crime and justice, but the Observer understands that ministers will announce further releases of information.It is understood that the Ministry of Justice is examining whether to open the court service to more scrutiny than ever before, by publishing judges' sentencing remarks... Under the plans, the performances of individual courts will also be open to scrutiny for the first time, as data from employment, asylum, social security and child support hearings is made publicly available. The move, a radical attempt to make the courts more accountable, is unlikely to receive the support of parts of the judiciary. In other developments, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will release data in the autumn on the controversial work programme, under which private companies have been given responsibility for finding work for the unemployed. This will cover people who have been on the scheme for 12 months. The data will show for each of the 40 work programme contracts the percentage of people who have had a ‘job outcome’. In November 2013 the DWP will publish the same data for people who have been on the work programme for two years, the maximum amount of time they can be on the scheme. The release will allow people to make an initial assessment of the value for money of the work programme compared with previous programmes. Beyond making the government and its public services more accountable, ministers believe the information released could be used by entrepreneurs to make money. A variety of websites and mobile phone applications have been launched over the last year following the previous release of information ... Francis Maude, minister for the cabinet office [said,] "Despite the huge achievements, as far as I am concerned the transparency story has only just begun. The next step is to make sure equality is at the heart of this data revolution and it benefits the average man on the street just as much as the savvy entrepreneur. So not only will we be publishing even more data that has the power to change people's everyday lives, but we will also be enhancing access to data and making sure all data released is reusable."