The Health and Social Care Act 2012, requires the Health and Social Care Information Centre to establish and operate a system for the collection or analysis of information in connection with the provision of health services and adult social care in England, if so directed by the Secretary of State or NHS England. The Informatics Services Commissioning Group, established in 2013, has been set up to enable the Health and Social Care Information Centre to become the focal point for data collected at the national level and that it increasingly becomes a ‘gateway’ for those seeking new data collections.
The Health and Social Care Information Centre publishes more than 130 statistical publications annually via its website. It also publishes a range of national indicators and metrics many of which are available publicly through its indicator portal. This includes, for example, the Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator, indicators from the Quality Outcomes Framework and measures from the NHS Outcomes Framework.
In addition, a range of metrics are collected and published by other organisations across the health sector that relate directly to the quality of patient care. This includes data on infection control published by Public Health England and information on safety incidents that are published by NHS England. From November 2013, NHS England will increasingly make such information accessible through NHS Choices in order to bring together the most reliable and relevant data from national web services and act as a ‘front door’ to the best information on health and social care on the internet.
Published data can be readily accessed by regulators to assess the risk of non-compliance. Where needed, however, additional data can be made available to regulators, for example, through local arrangements such as direct memoranda of understanding with the appropriate data collector.
Published Official Statistics are subject to the UK Statistics Authority’s Code of Practice for Official Statistics which expects that statistical reports should be released as soon as they are ready to avoid unnecessary delays and that such publication should take into account the needs of data users and the public.
In the light of this, and other similar recommendations in the inquiry, we expect that the Health and Social Care Information Centre should explore options and make proposals for using standard reporting formats that can be made more available to all organisations, in line with the ‘do once and use many times’ principle, with a view to improving consistency of analysis across the system.
The National Information Board ensures that the Health and Social Care Information Centre is the focal point for data collected at the national level and that it increasingly becomes a ‘gateway’ for those seeking new data collections. The Centre will continue to look for opportunities for standardising outputs in the context of the dissemination activities (for example to support the Care Quality Commission’s new inspection and intelligent monitoring activities), and it will work with its partners to explore how this approach might support their work.
In addition, a range of metrics are collected and published across the health sector that relate directly to the quality of patient care. This includes data on infection control (Public Health England), safety incidents (NHS England) and patients’ feedback reported on the NHS Choices website and, in future, through a national Health & Social Care Digital Service, which will be replacing NHS Choices. This new online service will bring together the most reliable and relevant data from national web services and act as a ‘front door’ to the best information on health and social care on the internet.