Assessment Report: Statistics on General Pharmaceutical Services in England

22 July 2021
Last updated:
22 July 2021



Trustworthiness means that the statistics and other numerical information are produced free from vested interest, based on the best professional judgement of statisticians and other analysts.

Trustworthiness is a product of the people, systems and processes within organisations that enable and support the production of statistics and other numerical information.



Independent decision-making and leadership

In response to a requirement in the assessment of Prescription Costs Analysis statistics, the interim lead official at NHSBSA has established good links with the Head of Profession for Statistics at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). He told us that he feels professionally supported in his role with good links established with DHSC, including for ad hoc advice.

Orderly release

NHSBSA has established good orderly release and pre-announcement practices. The pre-release access list is small, and NHSBSA plans to stop pre-release access entirely. Progress on this is pending the appointment of a permanent lead official and subsequent discussions with the Head of Profession for Statistics at DHSC.

NHSBSA’s revisions and corrections policy on its website commits to transparency about revisions and corrections, the reason for them and any impact on the statistics. Revisions and corrections are communicated on individual publications and summarised on a notices of corrections NHSBSA doesn’t currently communicate what it does to minimise the risk of repeated errors, but has committed to doing so in the future.

Transparent processes and management

Although NHSBSA has published a general statistical workplan, it has not published a development plan for these statistics specifically. NHSBSA told us that although it has several separate plans for various aspects of the statistics, it currently does not have one coherent plan bringing everything together. NHSBSA has committed to compiling all of its development plans into one single document and publishing this on its website.

NHSBSA has put forward its Prescription Cost Analysis statistics for a peer review by the Government Statistical Service’s Good Practice Team. Currently, a date has not been set for this to happen. However, once this is complete, NHSBSA intends to submit the General Pharmaceutical Services statistics for review. This demonstrates clearly NHSBSA’s commitment to improving its range of statistical products since taking on responsibility for their publication.

Data governance and access

NHSBSA publishes data publicly via its website and through an Open Data Portal. NHSBSA told us that it has established an Open Data plan, has an internal objective to move more data to the Open Data Portal, and has created Open Data Oversight groups. It is currently investigating the best platform to host its Open Data roadmap to make sure it meets both its own and its users’ needs.

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