Recommendation 257

Oversight of healthcare information

Accepted in principle
The Information Centre should be tasked with the independent collection, analysis, publication and oversight of healthcare information in England, or, with the agreement of the devolved governments, the United Kingdom. The information functions previously held by the National Patient Safety Agency should be transferred to the NHS Information Centre if made independent.

We accept that the Health and Social Care Information Centre should be made more independent. In April 2013, the Health and Social Care Information Centre was established as an executive non departmental public body to further ensure its independence in the undertaking of its key functions.

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. As such, its work includes the publication of more than 130 statistical publications annually; providing a range of specialist data services; managing informatics projects and programmes and developing and assuring national systems against appropriate contractual, clinical safety and information standards.

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 so that it increasingly becomes a checkpoint for those seeking new data collections.

At this time, we do not accept that this should include the information functions previously held by the National Patient Safety Agency.  Following the abolition of the National Patient Safety Agency, its key functions were transferred to NHS England in 2012, including functions relating to the National Reporting and Learning System. The operational management of the National Reporting and Learning System was transferred for two years from 1 April 2012 to Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

Given the recent transfer of these functions, the government stated in its initial response to the inquiry, Patients First and Foremost, that reallocating these functions at this stage would be unnecessarily disruptive.  This decision will be kept under review.

Update

Work to re-commission the National Reporting and Learning System is underway in NHS England with ongoing stakeholder and expert engagement being used to inform the design phase. The options development and appraisal will be progressed in Q3 and Q4 of 2014/15 with the revised design confirmed by the end of March 2015, subject to approvals. The procurement of the new system will then progress over the 2015/16 financial year.