Sharing resources and collaborating

This is a case study for Principle T4: Transparent processes and management.

Ofsted inspects and regulates services that care for children and young people, and services providing education and skills for learners of all ages. Ofsted is an official statistics producer that publishes statistics on its inspections and outcomes.

Ofsted statisticians identified an opportunity to explore data in the Ages and Stages Questionnaire collected by NHS Digital. The Ages and Stages Questionnaire is used to assess the development of preschool children, with all children in England eligible for a development review around their second birthday. This opportunity was driven by a desire to provide Ofsted inspectors with more information about early years settings.

A secondment arrangement was established after securing buy-in from senior leadership in both organisations. This provided an Ofsted analyst with secure access to NHS Digital data sources, allowing them to take forward the project with the appropriate security controls.

This sharing of resources resulted in the release of a publication which described the exploratory analysis undertaken. The report was welcomed by both producer bodies and demonstrated the value in focussing on improving the quality of some of NHS Digital’s less frequently used data sources.

This work is a good example of statistics producers working together to share resources and collaborate on a project that benefits both users and producers.

Assured quality in the Mental Health Act annual statistics

This is a case study for Principle Q3: Assured quality.

The NHS Digital Mental Health Act annual statistics bulletin contains official statistics about uses of the Mental Health Act in England.

In 2015 NHS Digital announced changes to the way it sources and produces these statistics. Previously these statistics were produced from the KP90 aggregate data collection. They are now produced from the Mental Health Services Data Set (MHSDS). This transition to a new data source was a cost saving factor as well as a programme of work to improve data quality. MHSDS provides a much richer data source for these statistics, allowing for new insights into uses of The Act.

For the October 2017 release, NHS Digital published the annual statistics with the new data source, and also produced a background data quality report that clearly communicates this assurance to their users. The document highlighted the improvements to data, methods and source and provided information on data relevance, reliability, coherence, timeliness, and clarity. NHS Digital included detailed information on, and published, missing data they were using to identify the most efficient way to increase coverage. Other positive mentions within the report include a section on the trade-offs between output quality components.

The report is a good example of what to include in a background quality document that accompanies the statistics bulletin and the data. The result of the overall quality improvements ensures the Mental Health Act annual statistics fit their intended use.