Improving access to HES data

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*NHS Digital must be cited as the source of this information.

NHS Digital is developing a new process to publish Hospital Episodes Statistics (HES) significantly sooner for improved analysis, planning and patient care.

Changes are being made to the system and processes used to collate and code collected data for all admissions, outpatient appointments and A&E attendances at NHS hospitals in England.

Extensive work has taken place over the last few months to reduce HES publication timescales. Data for January 2017 should be available by mid-March - more than a month earlier than last year's equivalent dataset, the quickest it has ever been published.

The NHS Digital team will continue to review, develop and replace processes to achieve further efficiencies for the data it receives, holds and processes on behalf of the health and social care system.

HES is derived from Commissioning Data Sets that provide records-level for all acute NHS trusts in England. It is designed for vital secondary administrative use as governed by strict access and controls.

Processing and making HES available sooner will reduce the burden for Trusts in the submission of aggregate data returns. It will also drive a focus on improved data quality in hospital source systems and an increase in the submission of data nationally held by hospitals.

Benefits of releasing data earlier include:

  •  faster production of HES analysis
  •  the ability to monitor patterns in NHS hospital activity earlier
  •  more timely assessment of effective delivery of care
  •  more timely data to support local planning
  •  providing the basis for national indicators of clinical quality to be published sooner
  •  informing patient choice and shaping frontline services through inclusion of the data in websites like NHS Choices

John Varlow, NHS Digital's Director of Data Analysis and SRO for the HES accelerator initiative, commented: "The process improvements stem from a six-month project to review the coding and ICT infrastructure that underpins our HES datasets.

"Our expert analysts and technicians have assessed the component parts, identified potential adjustments within each area and are now transitioning to a new system that will continue to evolve as further efficiencies are identified."

Daniel Ray, Director of Data Science at NHS Digital, added: "HES data is extremely important for a number of purposes, and being able to access the latest figures at an earlier stage is a significant benefit.

"It means that analysis is based on information that is closer to real-time, which will ultimately impact in improved care outcomes."

HES is a sub-set of the Commissioning Data Sets covering Admitted Patient Care (admissions), Out Patients and A&E.

These are submitted by NHS-funded hospitals at least monthly via the Secondary Uses Service (SUS). The data is then used to pay those providers via SUS and for statistical publications, via HES.

At the same time as the statistical publication, data is made available to researchers and other third parties who have been granted access to the data via the Data Access Request (DARS) process.


Notes to editors


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