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Policy Decisions: Use of Data

Volume 701: debated on Thursday 23 September 2021

The national data strategy sets out a vision to transform the Government’s use of data. The declaration on government reform, published in June, further committed to data being central to decision making, and the new Central Digital and Data Office is implementing common data standards and data-sharing frameworks to underpin better use of data in policy making.

The pandemic has demonstrated how comparable data in the NHS can help to improve policy decisions and, ultimately, patient outcomes. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Health and Care Bill needs to help facilitate UK-wide comparable and interoperable data?

My hon. Friend brings a welcome clinical focus, and he is absolutely right on the importance of data and interoperability. He will know that the data strategy for health and social care—Data Saves Lives—along with the Health and Care Bill, which he mentioned, seeks to improve data sharing across the health system for the reasons that he rightly highlights.

We know that one policy decision that the UK Government have taken, albeit an unsustainable and undemocratic one, is that Scotland should not have a say in its constitutional future. We also know that, for example, the UK Government are spending huge amounts of taxpayers’ money on research into public attitudes towards the Union. If the UK Government have taken the decision not to have a referendum, we know that it is because the polling suggests that support for independence is up. Why will the Minister not publish that polling information and be honest with the public?

I would have thought that, when talking about data, we would have been talking about the fiscal support that has been offered to Scotland, about the way in which the Scottish Government’s powers have not been used and about how we can get better delivery from the Scottish Government in areas such as education and drugs policy, where the data are absolutely chronic at the moment. I would hope that the Scottish Government will welcome the data strategy, as it will ensure that policy making is informed by good quality data and focused on good outcomes.