Rhun ap Iorwerth calls for NHS information revolution

Plaid Cymru AM calls for more open NHS data

Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health Rhun ap Iorwerth has called for more open data in the NHS in Wales.

Writing in Click on Wales today, Rhun ap Iorwerth said that the poor quality of data collection and publication is a huge problem in the NHS, and voiced concern that the trend in Wales is away from publishing comparable data.

Rhun ap Iorwerth also makes a series of recommendations to make data more accessible in the NHS. These are:

1. That all written questions from Assembly Members should be effectively treated like Freedom of Information requests to the government, with a legal obligation to answer honestly and accurately – if they don’t have the information centrally, then the obligation should be on the government to obtain it unless the cost of doing this would be prohibitive.

2. That the NHS needs to invest in its information collection services to at the very least ensure areas of concern highlighted by the 4th Assembly committee are addressed. Furthermore, it must publish this data in an open manner – including access to entire datasets for independent statisticians to be able to audit.

3. All devolved governments, and English public services, should seek ways of collaborating on the collection and publication of data on, but not limited to, staffing, waiting times, and financial information.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health Rhun ap Iorwerth has written:

“In most federal systems, the federal government mandates what data is collected and how it is published precisely so that poor performance can be identified, exposed and corrected. It also helps to encourage innovation because when one government implements a policy that is successful, their success is identified.

“For example when the initial data on the impact of the presumed consent system for organ donation was published, it was immediately followed by calls for Scotland, England and Northern Ireland to adopt this system.

“Unfortunately, the trend in Wales has actually been away from publishing comparable data. For example, the Welsh Government’s changes to the ambulance service targets and collection of data was intended to make it more difficult to compare Wales’ poor performance with other nations.

“As Plaid Cymru’s new Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, I say this is not good enough. Policy development should be fact and evidence based. Scrutiny makes for strong democracy and better governance, and this should be embraced. I want an information revolution in the Welsh NHS.”