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Third of NHS data collected is “useless”

20 November 2013

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All data collection should be regularly reviewed for “usefulness”, the NHS Confederation claims, with the publication of a report which shows a third of data collected is of no use to patients. 

NHS clinicians spend between two and 10 hours each week checking, collecting and recording data, Challenging Bureaucracy has shown. 

Although most of the data is important to patient care, the NHS Confederation believes neither the patients nor the health service are “reaping its full benefit”. 

At least 70% of staff say there has been a significant increase in the data they deal with over the past five years. 

Clinical staff reported that two-thirds of the data they deal with is useful and relevant for patient care, but the report calls for “maximum value” to be squeezed from every piece of information. 

The report also recommends the NHS moves towards greater automatisation in how it collects, extracts and processes information, releasing staff from unnecessary bureaucratic burdens and ensuring they are able to make use of the data they record and submit for delivering quality patient care.

NHS Confederation associate director Dr Karen Castille OBE said: “Some NHS organisations already have smooth, efficient and effective technology systems for gathering, validating, reporting and sharing data. We need to encourage all NHS organisations to get on the same page.

“It would be all too easy to say that cutting the amount of data we collect would save the NHS millions of pounds each year, but as our research shows – and as any clinician will tell you – robust data are crucial to providing excellent care and improving patient outcomes.

“In a modern health service, the collection and analysis of data must be timely, accurate and useful, and not out of proportion to the benefit it brings to patients and staff.”