Being transparent and orderly when publishing revisions and corrections

This is a case study for Principle T3: Orderly release. 

 The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) is a new official statistics producer that was added to The Official Statistics Order 2018. 

In April 2020, NHSBSA published a suite of information titled Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) England as National Statistics. This followed the responsibility for the publication of these statistics transferring to NHSBSA from NHS Digital.  

NHSBSA have used the Code of Practice for Statistics to frame many of its policies and processes that support the production of official statistics. The NHSBSA Revisions and Corrections policy is an excellent example of this. Users are put at the centre of the policy, ensuring that any revisions or corrections are clearly communicated including any reasons for the change. The policy details both scheduled and unscheduled revisions and corrections. Three types of revisions are defined as: 

  • scheduled revisions  
  • changes in methodology, and  
  • changes made due to receipt of further data.

NHSBSA commit to maintain a revision history for each statistical release and clearly mark any provisional or revised data.  

NHSBSA also commit to notify users of any significant errors that may occur. The policy states that decisions on how to address any errors in published statistics will be made by the Lead Official for Statistics, in consultation with the National Statistician. In line with the policy, NHSBSA published a correction notice in April 2020. The notice is prominent and clear and includes an explanation for users to understand the reason, nature and cause of the correction.  

More widely, the NHSBSA demonstrate the orderly release of the PCA statistics by using a 12-month release calendar to pre-announce the publication of its official statistics. A Pre-Release Access (PRA) list is also published as part of the PCA release, containing details of all individuals in NHSBSA who have been granted 24hour pre-release access to the statistics in their final form, as well as those engaged internally in production and dissemination of the statistics. The 24hour pre-release access list is commendably small, and we understand NHSBSA has plans to remove 24hour pre-release access to the PCA statistics entirely in future. 

This example shows how the NHSBSA supports trustworthiness in its official statistics by taking transparent and orderly approach to publishing statistical revisions and corrections. It also highlights other positive aspects such as of NHSBSA’s management of Pre-Release Access as well as the pre-announcement of the PCA statistics through a 12-month release calendar.