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Publication, Part of

NHS Staff Earnings Estimates, September 2021, Provisional Statistics

Official statistics, Experimental statistics

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Data Quality

The following section outlines issues to consider around the data quality of the quarterly Earnings statistics publications.


A provisional status is applied as the data is flowing from an operational system which may change slightly over time due to its live status and potential additional updates. Values in earnings data fields at record level have been shown to change by only 0.1% on average when extracted 6 months later.

As expected with provisional statistics, some figures may be revised from month to month as issues are uncovered and resolved.

No refreshes of the provisional data will take place either as part of the regular publication process, or where minor enhancements to the methodology have an insignificant impact on the figures at a national level; however, the provisional stamp allows for this to occur if it is determined that a refresh of data is required subsequent to initial release. Where a refresh of data occurs, it will be clearly documented in the publications.

NHS Digital seeks to minimise inaccuracies and the effect of missing and invalid data but responsibility for data accuracy lies with the organisations providing the data. Methods are continually being updated to improve data quality.

The changing nature of organisations that provide NHS services as part of Transforming Community Services (TCS) may impact on the overall totals as some NHS services become increasingly provided by third-party organisations (which are excluded from our figures). A programme of work is currently being undertaken to understand the associated issues and to work to resolve the implications for future publications.

Each monthly data extract from ESR is subject to a number of validation processes. Specific issues are highlighted, and reports are sent to each organisation informing them of their levels of data quality and any issues they can then act on. This has been well received by the NHS and has meant that more Trusts are willing to update data to save validation work in future. We want this to become the norm within NHS organisations and ensure greater emphasis is placed on improving data validation at source. See the methodology section below for further detail.

Earnings figures published by NHS Digital are an accurate estimate of the data supplied and validated as described above. However, given the size of the NHS workforce, its constantly changing composition, and the nature and timing of local data entry and checking processes, there will always remain some uncertainty in the true position of the NHS workforce at any point in time. 


Relevance of NHS workforce information is maintained by reference to working groups who oversee both data and reporting standards. Major changes to either are subject to approval by an NHS-wide Data Coordination Board (DCB).

Significant changes to the NHS Staff Earnings publication (e.g. frequency or methodology) are subject to consultation, in line with recommendations of the Code of Practice for Statistics:


2016 Consultation

These NHS Earnings statistics reflect the changes and developments following a consultation in March 2016. The consultation response can be found here.

Major changes following the consultation included:

  • Focussing this publication on staff in English NHS Trusts and CCGs 
  • The quarterly publication of staff in NHS Support Organisations and Central Bodies in England
  • Data on staff in Social Enterprises and Community Interest Companies have moved to the NHS Digital Independent Healthcare Provider workforce publication 
  • The removal of records that are not receiving earnings for activity, for example staff who hold contracts but are on maternity leave during the period covered by these statistics
  • The removal of some non-service contracts, for example Widow or Non-Executive Directors
  • The reclassification of some staff to different staff groups.


Comparability and Coherence

This is the latest publication of a new monthly series of HCHS Earnings statistics using data from the ESR. These figures are presented as a provisional series and are not directly comparable with previous NHS Earnings figures. NHS Digital welcomes feedback on the methodology, plus the content and accuracy of tables within this publication.

A provisional status is applied as the data is flowing from an operational system. No refreshes of the provisional data will take place as part of the regular publication process; however, the provisional stamp allows for this to occur if it is determined that a refresh of data is required subsequent to initial release. Where a refresh of data occurs, it will be clearly documented in the publications.

Earnings statistics for the Primary Care workforce (GPs and Dentists) are available at:


Timeliness and punctuality

NHS Earnings data is published every 3 months.  The most recent data in each publication contains ESR data that is within 3 months of the data time stamp.

For a list of future publications and dates please see:


The monthly publication consists of high-level HCHS NHS Trust and CCG staff in England at National, HEE and organisational level by major staff groups. Further detailed analyses may be available on request, subject to resource limits and compliance with disclosure control requirements.

The publication may also contain detailed statistics providing further granularity across staff groups and work areas for specific topic areas or service priority issues, which will be available on request in those months they are not placed on the website.


Performance cost and respondent burden

The statistics use administrative data from ESR for all but one trust, creating no burden on most trusts.

Confidentiality, Transparency and Security

The standard NHS Digital data security and confidentiality policies have been applied in the production of these statistics.


General Issues to consider:

Staff who work at different locations

Some staff are on one Trust’s payroll but work within a different Trust. This should be reflected in the ESR system and is used for publishing purposes to show where the staff member actually works. If Trusts do not record this, then the staff will be reflected as working at the employing organisation rather than the workplace organisation.


Last edited: 5 January 2022 9:43 am