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

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