Today, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has published its report on “The Importance of involving statisticians in the evolution of NHS Performance Measures.”

This report focuses on accident and emergency (A&E) statistics in England, Scotland and Wales. It summarises four cases that OSR has looked at over the last two years involving these statistics, and draws out common themes and recommendations.

The four cases are: Changes to what should be included in A and E returns; Problems at NHS Lothian; Leaks; and Comparison of 12 hour waits in England and Wales. These cases show how OSR’s recommendations serve to improve the trustworthiness, quality and value of these important NHS performance measures.

There are two key conclusions for decision makers in the NHS and for policy makers:
– support the work of statisticians and other analysts in the health system. These analysts can help highlight risks to data quality, provide assurance on the usefulness of the performance measures, and advise on changes to performance measurement systems; and
– ensure that the purpose of these performance measures is clear.

Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation, said:

“A&E performance statistics perform a hugely valuable role. They don’t just support decision makers – they also are crucial in informing the public about the performance of the NHS. Our report highlights how producers of statistics can draw on the expertise of statisticians to minimise the challenges facing these high-profile statistics: misunderstanding, misstatement and misleading use.”