Headlines: December 20th, 2004

More reductions are being made in the amount of information that NHS Trusts have to collect. The decision follows a data streamlining exercise conducted with Monitor, the Foundation Hospitals regulator, and the Healthcare Commission.Health Minister Lord Warner said following the study, 61 central data collections would be stopped or cut in size. The latest changes will mean that since April last year the burden of data collection has been reduced by a quarter for the NHS overall and by half for NHS Foundation Trusts. The changes are expected to mean 7.6 million pounds in savings for the NHS. Most of this money will come from recurrent savings that can be ploughed back into patient care.

The new cuts in central demands for statistics include reducing the frequency of workforce data collection to once a year, scrapping the need for Foundation Trusts to collect records of car parking, telecommunications and laundry services and ending duplication of data such as elective and non-elective activity levels and GP referral rates that are currently collected from both providers and commissioners of healthcare. In future this information will be taken only from those commissioning treatment.

Lord Warner said data collection was important in the NHS because, as in any large organisation, information was needed to run it well and to keep the public informed. Some of the information that trusts were being asked to provide was, however, being collected too frequently or being duplicated and some of it related to purely local issues which the Department of Health did not need to monitor.

“By April 2005 we will have reduced by a third in 12 months local NHS personnel tied up on data collection,” he said. “The cuts I’m announcing will free up the equivalent of about 150 people at the local level for other NHS work,” he added.

William Moyes, Chairman of Monitor, said the news would be welcomed by NHS Trusts and his organisation would continue to work closely with the Department and the Healthcare Commission and foundation trusts to ensure they could make best use of the freedoms associated with their new status.