Skip to main content
Outcome Data

Bowel cancer outcomes are displayed in funnel plots. This resource explains how to read the funnel plots in ACPGBI's bowel cancer Clinical Outcomes Publication

The three “funnel” plots on each page show the Trust’s and surgeons’ 90-day mortality after planned surgery for bowel cancer and the Trust’s 30 day unplanned readmission rate after any major surgery for bowel cancer.


The dots show the result for an individual NHS Trust or surgeon.

  • an ORANGE dot indicates the outcome for this Trust and surgeons working at the Trust
  • a BLUE dot indicates the outcomes for all other Trust and surgeons

Vertical axis

Vertical axis (y axis) is the adjusted 90-day postoperative mortality (%) OR the adjusted 30 day unplanned readmission rate.

Dots higher up the funnel plot indicate a higher mortality rate.

Horizontal axis

Horizontal axis (x axis) is the number of operations (volume) performed at a Trust or by a surgeon.

Dots to the right of the funnel plot indicate more procedures performed.


The dark blue zone shows the range of mortality that could be explained by random variation. A Trust or surgeon within this zone has a mortality rate in the expected range that can be explained by random variation alone. The zone is funnel shaped because outcomes at low volumes are more affected by random variation (giving a larger acceptable range) than at high volumes when random variation has less effect.

A Trust or surgeon in the light blue zone above the funnel limit is identified as a negative “outlier”. This means that the Trust/surgeon have been asked to check the accuracy of their data and examine what might have caused the higher than expected rate. A Trust or surgeon in the lower light blue zone is a positive “outlier” with a mortality rate better than expected when compared to the national average.