Data quality is measured on submission of annual data by local authorities, and processes are followed to try and improve quality of data submitted. Summary measures indicate that the data submitted was valid and complete to a high degree. The quality of data has generally improved over time and therefore users should be aware of the following specific issues:
Not completed applications
As in previous years, NHS Digital has used the data available to calculate the estimated volumes of applications not completed at year end. An estimated number of applications not completed can be created by taking last year’s reported number of applications not completed, adding the number of applications received and then subtracting the number of applications completed.
This calculation produces an estimated figure greater than the equivalent figure reported by local authorities. NHS Digital has worked with local authorities to try to understand the reasons for this. From the local authorities who provided explanations for their variation, one common theme was that this variation could be explained by the figures from the previous reporting period being higher than they should have been. This was due to several reasons, such as the previous return including applications that should have had a status of Not Granted but the application was still showing as in progress, or data quality issues caused by migrating data from older reporting systems, or through duplicate recording of applications.
Variance in active authorisations
The DoLS data collection should include all applications that were active at any point in the year. During the analysis of the data, it was noticed that a number of local authorities had once again not submitted data for authorisations that had been started in the previous year but had finished in the current year. During the data validation process, many local authorities resolved this issue and included the missing authorisations for their final data return. Some local authorities reported to NHS Digital that the variance was a result of a data cleansing exercise on their 2018-19 data or that was due to a change in system supplier. Others did not have the capacity to correct their data.
As a result, nineteen local authorities are showing significantly lower numbers of active authorisations on 1 April 2019, the opening date of the 2019-20 collection, compared with the previous day, 31 March 2019, the closing date of 2018-19 collection. Having these data allows us to accurately measure the actual duration of granted authorisations and also measure the number of authorisations in place throughout the year. NHS Digital will continue to provide the guidance document and encourage all local authorities to review this document each year to ensure they are including the correct records.
Incomplete Actual End Dates
During the data validation process, NHS Digital identified approximately 4,700 cases across 61 local authorities where the Planned End Date of the authorisation was during the current reporting period however the Actual End Date had been left blank, indicating the unlikely scenario that the authorisation was still in place. NHS Digital worked with the local authorities in question to resolve this issue which reduced the number of these cases to approximately 3,300. This issue has the effect of inflating the figure reported in Table 6 in the Time Frames data tables, which is the number of authorisations in place on 31st March 2020.
Start Date of Authorisation recorded earlier than Date Application Received
There were approximately 6,600 authorisations across twenty three local authorities where the Start Date of Authorisation had been recorded earlier than the Date Application Received. Some local authorities provided the explanation that this was an accurate reflection of local practice.
Some local authorities gave comments in their data return to explain errors or issues with their data. NHS Digital would like to thank these local authorities for their transparency. The table below summarises specific key issues that are not covered by the general comments above.
||Table Affected - reference
||Table Affected - details
||Local Authority comment
|209 - Bradford
||Demographics Data Tables - Table 1
||Count of Ethnicity and Sexual Orientation recorded as 'Not Known'
||Bradford Council advised that they are aware that the data proportions are skewed towards 'Not Known' and that significant work has taken place to ensure that they can report demographic data on the majority of their DoLS records. They have advised that they are looking to amend their care management system so that it is easier for them to report on this data for next years collection.
|327 – Cheshire West and Chester
||Applications Data Tables – Table 9
||Count of Not Completed Applications under reported
||Cheshire West and Chester Council advised the majority of their approximately 570 not completed applications from 2018-19 have not been carried over onto their 2019-20 return. This has the effect of lowering their count of not completed applications. They advised that they are working with their system supplier to resolve the issue.
Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19)
England went into national lockdown following the outbreak of Covid-19 in March 2020. Although the majority of the data collected relates to pre-lockdown, local authorities had to support the Covid-19 response and so may have had less resource to work on the national data collections. NHS Digital extended the timelines for collecting the data to give local authorities more time to complete the data returns.
We have also tried to look holistically across all local authorities at the possible impact dealing with the pandemic has had on data quality, in terms of reduced capacity to collate and review the data before sending it to NHS Digital. We have concluded that data quality has not been adversely affected at national level. As mentioned above, like in 2018-19, all local authorities made a valid submission by the final deadline and the final returns yielded a very high national completeness and validity score (99.81%). The annex tables that accompany this publication also includes some data integrity checks. There are 11 data integrity checks that are carried out across each record in each local authority return. In 2018-19, there were almost 14,000 validation breaches, in 2019-20 there were approximately 13,000. In addition, we have looked at whether there has been more of a propensity to return ‘not known’ values for certain data items – this is true for a small number of local authorities for some demographic data but does not significantly impact on the national picture.
A noticeable increase compared to last year has been seen in the number of records where it has not been possible to match to a known CQC registered Service Provider for the same period. For future years we will look to incorporate additional checks within the data submission window to enable an improved match rate.
Please see the Data Quality Statement for more information on data quality.