28. As one of the main producers of official statistics on health care in Scotland and instrumental in the creation of the Scottish COVID-19 dashboard, PHS is a trusted and respected statistics producer. Staff are encouraged to undergo training the Code of Practice for Statistics and application of RAP principles is encouraged throughout the organisation. There are processes in place to ensure that staff are familiar with data governance legislation and a policy in place to avoid collecting identifiable information. There is a Statistical Disclosure Protocol which is followed for both the weekly and monthly publication to protect patient confidentiality.
29. PHS produces statistics in an impartial and accurate way. It recognises the need to be clear and consistent on definitions so that hospitals collect the data consistently. PHS is currently setting up a Statistics and Analytical Advisory Group which will focus on communicating methods and governance in accordance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.
30. PHS has recently updated its website with further information on who receives early access for quality assurance purposes. However, we identified that the pre-release access (PRA) list is fairly long. Whilst we recognise that the 14 NHS Boards all receive PRA, it is good practice to regularly review PRA lists to ensure that individuals that may no longer need early access are removed. The PHS Statistical Governance team has committed to reviewing the PRA list for both the weekly and monthly statistics this year, in order to ensure that everyone included does require access under PRA legislation and remove any legacy members. The list will also be updated to include roles and organisations.
31. During this assessment, we identified several minor areas for improvement related to transparency. All of these were addressed promptly by PHS. These were:
- An update to include a named statistician on the release, as well as a generic mailbox for queries.
- A section on planned developments of A&E statistics including the additional statistics that PHS wishes to publish and a section on improving data and interpretation
- Clearer information on when the monthly and weekly statistics are updated.