Hospital Dr News

Government to scrap a quarter of data returns

The government is set to scrap a quarter of the data returns demanded from GPs, hospitals and other NHS bodies as part of a drive to cut NHS red tape and save £10m.

The new consultation, called A fundamental review of data returns, looked at over 300 separate data collections commissioned by the Department of Health and its arms length bodies and assessed their impact on improving patient and clinical care.

Fifty eight of the 305 datasets demanded by the DH and NHS quangos have now been suspended with a view to them being permanently abolished when the 12-week consultation finishes.

The majority of data that the government wants to scrap relates to policies and targets set up by the previous government or data demanded by NHS quangos that are being abolished.

Hospitals will no longer have to provide returns on compliance with the 18 week referral to treatment target or the four hour A&E waiting time target, both of which were abolished by the coalition.

Public health minister, Anne Milton, said: “Meaningful information is the lifeblood of the NHS. The data we collect must be of real value to help us improve patient outcomes, patient choice and clinical decisions. We know that some of the data that is being gathered is of limited use, taking up valuable staff time and resources.

“This is why we want to cut red tape in the NHS so that staff can focus on what matters most – improving frontline care and services for patients.”

A second phase of work will be carried out to examine how remaining data returns can be rationalised. The aim is for data to be collected and processed efficiently and for any burden on information providers to be kept to a minimum, the government said.

Tim Straughan, chief executive of the NHS Information Centre, added: “High-quality, relevant and up-to-date information is essential to enable the NHS to deliver the best possible care for patients. The purpose of this review is to make sure we collect data that can make a real impact in helping to improve care while stopping data returns that are no longer needed and only continue for historical reasons.

“In reaching our recommendations, we looked at more than 300 data returns, covering 12 distinct themes and involving contributions from over 200 people. We believe the result of review will free local NHS staff from unnecessary administrative burdens while at the same time supporting patient choice and better decision-making within the NHS.”

The consultation runs from 30 August to 22 November 2011. Contribute here.

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