Driving the change to make health statistics more coherent

Emma Sharland of the English Health Statistics and Steering Group reviews the work they have undertaken to make health statistics in England more coherent, following a Systemic Review undertaken by OSR

In 2015, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) identified that producers of health and care statistics in England were struggling to provide coherent, comparable and easily accessible information. This was because these statistics were produced by several different organisations. They had no single point of access, comprised different methodologies and definitions, and were hard to access.

To resolve this issue, in 2016, members from key statistical producers formed the English Health Statistics and Steering Group (EHSSG). The aim of this group is to improve coherence and accessibility of health and care statistics in England by:

  • removing duplication of statistical releases
  • harmonising methodology and definitions
  • increasing user engagement
  • aligning publication dates
  • improving accessibility of statistics

The Covid-19 pandemic has continued to highlight the importance of easily accessible, comparable, and high-quality health and care statistics. The pandemic itself caused progress in some of these aims to be stalled, but we are refocused on delivering against our aims.

The English Health Statistics Steering Group (EHSSG) is now led by Julie Stanborough in the Office for National Statistics (ONS). We have recently produced a new workplan reflecting on the changing landscape of health and care statistics following the pandemic. This workplan enables us to drive forward changes to enhance the coherence, production, dissemination and accessibility of health and care statistics in England. The group meets quarterly and has membership from all the key health and care statistics producers. We also engage with the new Health Statistics Leadership Forum, led by Lucy Vickers in the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Attached to the EHSSG are 15 theme groups focusing on specific topics in health and care. Each theme group is chaired by a lead from one statistics provider and have membership from all official statistics producers. They are in the process of putting together their action plans to ensure their aims reflect the objectives of the EHSSG.

Our Smoking Theme Group have aligned their publication dates to improve the coherence of the communications on this topic whilst the Disability Theme Group have reviewed how disability is measured and are encouraging data collectors to use harmonised methods. The Adult Social Care Theme Group have been able to fill some gaps on the statistics about adult social care and carers, for example, the characteristics of unpaid carers.

Alongside the theme groups we have an interactive tool which compiles all official statistics publications and datasets relevant to health and care in England in one place. You will also find COVID-19 publications from across the UK. You can use this tool to find publications by theme, by producer and by geography. We update this tool monthly, and we currently have over 850 publications and datasets incorporated.

We also produce a monthly health and care newsletter which highlights key publications and information relating to health and care statistics. We are in the process of redesigning this newsletter to focus more on the work of the EHSSG and its associated theme groups to ensure we provide regular updates on a variety of health and care related topics. You can sign up to the newsletter here.

We want to do moreā€¦

Health and care statistics are forever evolving just as the health sector and needs of patients and communities are always changing and as such, we would like to reach out to users of health and care statistics to understand more about your needs and how we can help.

To raise anything to us at the EHSSG, including feedback on our newsletter, please contact us via our mailbox gss.health@ons.gov.uk

For further information

For more information, please visit our GSS Health and Care Statistics webpages, contact us on GSS.health@ons.gov.uk and follow us on twitter @GSS_health