A minor change was made to Figure 1 (2007-08) (on the 06/07/2009), this is highlighted within the corrected document.
Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) contains a wide range of maternity information which has been published annually since 2000-01. This information has historically been reported separately from other HES data because it has a number of unique characteristics and issues which do not affect other aspects of HES data.
In December 2007, the Health and Social Care Information Centre began a complete review of the NHS Maternity Statistics publication, in the interest of bringing the publication in line with the National Statistics code of practice, supporting the measurement of the maternity indicator from the recent PSA (Public Service Agreement) target and the continuous improvement of published data within the Health and Social Care Information Centre. As a result of the consultation, a number of revisions were made to the Maternity Statistics publication. Full details of these changes with the full consultation document can be found here. Although issues with maternity data remain (such as poor data quality and coverage), due to changes in methodology, it is now possible (since 2006-07 data) to publish maternity HES data alongside inpatient and outpatient data.
As a result of the Maternity Statistics consultation, the Health and Social Care Information Centre agreed to continue to gross HES data using the Office for National Statistics (ONS) birth registration figures, as in previous publications. It was intended that a selection of tables would be grossed for the current maternity publication (2007-08), but due to a number of factors, this has not been the case. Issues that have led to maternity statistics remaining ungrossed are:
• a national grossing factor for HES data to ONS registered births would actually lead to a decrease in HES figures: the original purpose of HES data was to allow for shortfalls in the data
• the grossing factor is 0.984 and so there is little difference between HES data and ONS registered births
• geographical breakdowns for ONS registered births are unavailable in the format HES data are produced. This means that it would be impossible to gross data of a geographical breakdown below a national level.