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NHS Statistics

Volume 475: debated on Friday 9 May 2008

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what information was made available, and when, to Ministers in his Department on the Department of Health's NHS quarterly in-patient and out-patient waiting times statistics' failure against the six criteria of clarity, accuracy, objectivity, professionalism, use of simple language and ease of use; and what representations have been made to his Department by the Office of National Statistics on this matter. (202771)

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 9 May 2008:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking what information had been available, and when, to Ministers on the Department of Health's NHS quarterly inpatient and outpatient waiting times statistics’ failure against the six criteria of clarity, accuracy, objectivity, professionalism, use of simple language and ease of use; and what representation had been made to his Department by the Office of National Statistics on this matter. (202771)

Statistical Heads of Profession in the relevant Departments, the Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, and I as his Chief Executive, all received a copy of the Statistics Commission's 39th Report which was published on 13 March 2008 and entitled ‘Releasing Official Statistics: A Review of Statistical First Releases’. Heads of Profession in other Departments will have informed their Ministers as appropriate. That report described the Commission's recent review of a sample of statistical releases issued by the Government Statistical Service against six key criteria relating to release practices. Included in the Commission's sample was the Department of Health's NHS quarterly Inpatient and Outpatient Waiting Times release. The Head of Profession for Statistics in the Department of Health wrote to the National Statistician at the time indicating that remedial measures would be taken where appropriate. It is now the case that commentary will be included with all Department of Health statistical releases. Additionally, and once the Authority's statutory Head of Assessment is in place, the Authority will consider when and how it will assess this release against its Code of Practice for Official Statistics.