Heart patients in the Midlands were yesterday granted access to the survival rates of cardiac units throughout the country.

Published for the first time by the Healthcare Commission, the results showed statistics for heart surgery at 33 hospitals in England and Wales.

The Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital, North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary, the Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry and the Wolverhampton New Cross Hospital were four of the hospitals mentioned in the report.

All of the hospitals either hit the target expected survival rate or exceeded it.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital scored "better than it expected" for its survival rate of 96 per cent, when 961 patients were operated on over a period of a year until March 2005. A spokeswoman for the hospital said: "We are absolutely delighted with the results but we will not get complacent.

"We have come up top in the last three years and it is all about team work. It is a massive team who carry out complex surgery."

As well as statistics for general heart surgery, the organisation presented survival results for coronary artery bypass graft operations and aortic valve replacement operations.

With a general survival rate for the last year of 97.1 per cent, Wolverhampton New Cross recorded a 100 per cent survival rate for patients who were operated on for an aortic valve replacement. Coventry's Walsgrave Hospital received a 96.2 per cent survival rate for its 898 operations.

Ramesh Patel, cardiothoracic surgeon at the hospital, said: "For the first time patients who need heart surgery have access to important information like survival rates on which to base their choice as to where to have their surgery.

"At Walsgrave Hospital our success is due to the entire Cardiac team's efforts not just the surgeons.

"Most patients have their operation with two-three months compared to the government target of six months."

Surgeons and health experts had opposed the release of death or survival rates, fearing that doctors would be deterred from operating on high-risk patients in case they affected the figures.

But the Commission, in partnership with the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery, has adjusted figures to take into account 17 different risk factors that make some patients more likely to survive than others, including age and other medical problems.

A spokeswoman for the Healthcare Commission, said that although it was not compulsory for heart units to take part in the project, "if they did not, we would question why they weren't."

Dr Paul Miller, chairman of the British Medical Association's consultants committee, said: "It is absolutely right that patients have access to helpful and reliable information concerning their treatment or operation."