Category Archives: Publications

Publishing Health Stats Weekly

In my last blog postIMG_20150225_073056451, I shared details of our planned changes to publications practices in the Information Services Division and Health Protection Scotland organising our outputs around a weekly publication cycle from January 2015. We are now eight weeks into the new schedule and I thought it would be a good time to reflect back on a very busy couple of months.

What has been immediately noticeable is the increase in coverage of our publications. By spreading publications out across a whole month as opposed to a single day in that month allows much  more focus on individual reports and we have definitely seen that reflected in our media monitoring. The media can really help in increasing the awareness of health issues with the wider public so this is something we are pleased to see.

Being able to publish weekly also gives us more flexibility than a monthly timetable allows. Where analysis can be completed earlier, publications can be brought forward; but also where we need a bit more time (say another week) to quality assure the data we can adjust the publication date to take account of this, and not have to wait for a whole month for the next opportunity to release data.

There are still days with a high number of publications, for example on 24 February we had 10 publications but 6 of them were on waiting times.  Releasing those together is keeping our commitment to group similar publications. As a result, there will always be some days that are busier than others but we do want to time releases in a way that is useful for customers.

Recently, it was announced that ISD and HPS would be collaborating with the Scottish Government to develop a new website – NHS Performs to make it quick and easy for people to find key NHS statistics. This website will contain data on a number of important indicators – publishing weekly stats where available. It is very early days yet but over the coming months,  we will be working on the new website, involving the public and users in its development. We will share links and updates through this blog.

The publication process touches the whole of our organisation, from those processing the data, running the reports, providing the analysis, producing the report, formatting and publishing the content. We are committed to getting information to our users in the most timely way so that they can put this information to work in their hospitals, NHS Boards, local authorities, helping them to deliver their services.

Nic Rigglesford, Statistics Support Team

Changes to our Publication release practices

If you read our blog post on our ‘Taking Care of Scottish Health Statistics’ event you will see that there was a strong message that ISD needed to change its practice of ‘bunching’ official statistics in a single release date each month.   We’ve listened to this feedback and I’d like to share with you the changes that we are going to make in response to that demand.

From January 2015, ISD is going to be publishing on any Tuesday in the month, not just the last Tuesday. As well as spreading the publications out more evenly across the year, it also means that our analysts will have more flexibility in when data can be released. So where data has become available slightly earlier than expected, publications can be brought forward; but where they see a publication requires more time to gather and quality assure the data, that release date can be put back a little. We’ve started trialling this and already we have been able to bring forward our Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratios (HSMR) publication to 18 November which means this information is getting to our customers sooner.

We know you want our publications to be grouped around topic areas, so we’re planning to put similar or related topics out on the same day when we can, for example Waiting Times releases will continue to go out together.  As part of this change, Health Protection Scotland’s publications, like their Weekly Report, will move to a Tuesday so that all the statistics from NHS National Services Scotland will be released on the same day. All statistics will continue to be pre-announced on the ISD and HPS websites so that you will know in advance when the reports will be released.

The bunching process was originally introduced to help to manage publications consistently and to give an overall picture of health in Scotland; however, because the number of publications has increased over the past few years we have ended up with over 20 releases going out on one day.  Users told us that they want these to be more spread out more while retaining the quality and robustness of national data and that is what we hope to be able to achieve with these changes.

Nic Rigglesford, Statistics Support Team