A report published by the Audit Commission has concluded that data quality is still “often not what it needs to be to meet the demands now being placed upon it.”
The report, Figures You Can Trust: Data Quality in the NHS, says that although there have been some improvements since its 2004 report on Data Quality, its conclusions are still “largely relevant” because there has been “limited progress.”
Areas of continued weakness include the failure of organisations to “embed” good data quality into their activities and the lack of a coordinated approach to reviewing and improving data quality.
The Commission argues there is a growing need to address these problems, as the commissioning, payment and regulatory mechanisms that are supposed to deliver the quality agenda set out in Lord Darzi’s Next Stage Review of the NHS all depend on high quality information.
The report urges trusts to take greater responsibility for the quality of the data they produce and says that “although there is some good practice, the approach of many organisations is weak.”
It also says boards should take a “greater lead in improving and assuring themselves about the quality of data they receive and that their organisations publish.”
However, the report also concludes that there is a need for a “more coordinated and joined up approach to reviewing and supporting the development of data quality by key stakeholders and regulators.”
And it says that there needs to be clearer leadership from the Department of Health, senior managers, clinicians and regulators to reinforce the need for reliable data when examining quality metrics and the quality of patient care.
It also reiterates the greater need for clinical engagement and improved external monitoring and reviews.