NHS emergency department statistics to be re-checked by regulator

NHS Improvement will review figures following BBC investigation into changes in calculation process
NHS waiting room

Emergency department (ED) performance statistics from last October onwards in England are to be re-checked by healthcare regulator NHS Improvement.

Picture: Newsteam

The move comes after analysis by the BBC this week raised questions about how some trusts' ED statistics were being calculated.

The BBC showed that at least six trusts in England had seen an improvement in their ED performance figures in October, compared with September, by adding walk-in centres to the data that were not on their site and not run by the trusts.

Some trusts claim their performance against the four-hour ED target, in which 95% of patients must be admitted, transferred or discharged, improved by up to 5%. 

Following the BBC's analysis, the UK Statistics Authority asked NHS England for clarity on how the data had been collected.

Letter seeks clarification on data

UK Statistics Authority director general for regulation Ed Humpherson wrote to Mark Svenson, head of operational information for commissioning at NHS England, stating: ‘We understand that an unpublished letter about new pathways issued by NHS Improvement on 13 October may be having an impact on recording practice. 

‘The published statistics from October 2017 should be clearer on the impact of changes to recording practice and the interpretation that should be applied by users.

‘Changes in the way that statistics are collected, compiled and presented should be clearly explained, reassuring all users that the production and quality of the published data is trustworthy.’

Health service response

An NHS Improvement spokesperson said: ‘We recognise there is variation in how trusts report ED data, given the complex way in which patients receive these services.

‘Next month’s publication data will make clear any changes that have been made to the reporting of data in recent months, while we undertake a process to understand what data is being reported and what services it covers.’

The spokesperson added that the outcomes of this process will be included in a joint NHS England and NHS Improvement review of winter services, which will be published in the spring.

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