The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has today published its second report on the remarkable work by producers of health and social care statistics to meet the increased public demand for data and statistics during the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the vital role that data and statistics play in our society and their ability to serve the public good. Following OSR’s previous work, we have taken another look at health and social care statistics, to see how the statistical system is transitioning from pandemic crisis mode into living with COVID-19.

It has so far been possible to meet the increased analytical demands of the pandemic thanks to the extraordinary, dedicated efforts of producers. However, it is unclear how sustainable it will be for producers to maintain current levels of work – particularly as new priorities emerge and while pressures on resource remain.

OSR has identified four areas which support the production of statistics which serve the public good, these are:

  • Horizon Scanning – understanding what information people need and therefore prioritising effectively;
  • Availability – ensuring that data and statistics are made available in an accessible, transparent and timely way. There must also be continued efforts by producers to ensure that data gaps are addressed, including on social care, mental health and ethnicity.
  • Collaboration – to publish statistics which provide maximum value for users, producers must continue to collaborate to share data, plug gaps and improve coherence; and
  • Communication – producers should continue to innovate and communicate their statistics in a clear and engaging way to a wide range of users. This involves producers making good use of different mediums for communicating their statistics, including dashboards and social media. We also identified a risk to health and social care statistics serving the public good if they are misused. We want to see producers being proactive to minimise this risk in future.

Ed Humpherson, DG for Regulation said:

This report highlights the key issues for health and social care statistics, to ensure ongoing analytical success from everything that has been achieved and learned during the pandemic. In particular, collaboration between producers and innovative approaches to the communication of statistics are two areas where we have seen many excellent examples during the pandemic.

He continued:

We hope that OSR’s recommendations will help senior leaders in government and the health and care sector to work together to produce statistics that inform the public about the issues which matter most to them.

Related links

Lessons learned for health and social care statistics from the COVID-19 pandemic: 2022 update

Report launch event

Notes to Editors

Last year, OSR released our first Covid lessons learned report, that called for strong leadership, transparency, and investment in health and social care statistics.

As the independent UK-wide statistics regulator, we are in a unique position to take a broader look at issues of importance to society and to make the case for improved statistics across organisation and Government boundaries. This is supported by our ability to convene, influence and highlight best practice from other sectors.

We have written this report to help ensure that statistics provide a robust evidence base for national and local policy development and decision making. We champion the need for statistics to support a much wider range of users, including, by charities, community groups and individuals. Statistics should allow individuals and organisations to reach informed decisions, answer important questions, make the case for change and hold government to account.

For more information about OSR’s regulatory work programme, please contact Email: Tel: +44 (0)207 592 8659