On 8 July I hosted a one-day Health and Care Summit, focusing on areas of improvement within published statistics and data, celebrating the great work out there already, and listening to what users of this information need and want. I wanted to share a number of my reflections of the event with you:
Fantastic and sobering
This Summit, to my eye, was fantastic and sobering. The day served as a platform to air out a number of challenges that producers face to provide users with the information for better insight and decisions. All in all I was excited to see the enthusiasm and commitment to ensuring all the different types of numerical information available are trustworthy, of high quality, and have public value. I left the day hoping that all those attending would carry on this dialogue, as it would be fair to say that most of the challenges raised were difficult to discuss fully, plan for, and overcome in one day.
Action is needed now
Yet, I also left wanting producers to translate this enthusiasm into action. Action is the only way to bring about the needed ‘radical change’ in the production of health and care statistics and data that the National Statistician John Pullinger and I called for on behalf of all users.
There is, I’m afraid, a lot to be done. We need to see a health and care statistical landscape that is coherent (across England, and the UK in general), focused, balanced, relevant, and insightful. Frankly, we are not there yet.
John Pullinger rightly said in his closing remarks that there are smaller ‘here and now’ improvements that producers can and should implement. I’ve seen evidence of this already, for example, the Office for National Statistics subsequent to the Summit published UK Health Account data in an accessible, reusable format as suggested by those attending the Summit. However, efforts need to be directed at enabling strategic change, by, for example, establishing clear lines of leadership and accountability.
Seeing the bigger picture
The Summit offered time to step back and see the bigger picture. It’s clear the plethora of numerical information sources should be utilised to paint the clearest picture of the health and care system in England. Information sources outside the boundaries of official and National Statistics form part of this picture for users, who often don’t distinguish between types of statistics. It was clear from the Independent Review of UK Economic Statistics that our job as the regulatory arm of the Authority is to refresh our perspective on these boundaries. Our focus will be on ensuring this clear picture is established, and that numerical information published by public bodies is trustworthy, of high quality, and of public value.
I fed back at the end of the Summit the UK Statistics Authority’s next steps as regulators, and I wanted to use this blog as a tool to update you on the progress made:
- To create a note of the Summit setting out the key strategic issues. This note is now published on our website, and we very much urge you to have a look and think through how these issues relate to your own work, and how you can make steps to overcome these issues.
- To reconvene our Round Table, where leaders of health and care statistics can discuss the strategic issues set out. We have set a date in October, and minutes of this meeting will be made available on our website.
- To approach producers asking for action plans to be made to address the challenges discussed in the Summit. We’ve sent out an email this week, and look forward to hearing from everyone. We’ve changed our approach on this point, and asked for producers who work in the same area (or family) of statistics to provide a joint action plan, helping to promote collaboration and coherence. We hope that these action plans consider the here and now changes that can be made, and also changes that need to be implemented in the long term.
- Invite people to reconvene in a year’s time to take stock. The feedback collected on the event has been reviewed, and the planning will start next year. We very much want the second event to be as participative as the first, and even more so if time permits, as from the feedback collected this was a welcomed and successful aspect of the July 2016 Summit.
We are now working on further plans to help support producers take the steps to better the health and care numerical information system. I will use this blog as a platform to inform you all about these plans when they have been finalised, and also to share my latest reflections about how statistics producers are responding to the challenges of enhancing health and care statistics.
In the meantime, please feel free to contact me or my team (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any of your thoughts and ideas.
Director General for Regulation
10 August 2016