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The Primary and Dental Care and Oral Health Theme Group

An old user removed

The Primary and Dental Care and Oral Health Theme Group met for the first time in October 2017, with representation from NHS England, NHS Digital, Public Health England, Department of Health and Social Care, Care Quality Commission and NHS Business Services Authority.

One fairly immediate benefit of convening the group has been increasing the awareness of what each organisation is doing and focusing on, to mitigate the risks of duplication or lack of coherence.

Our approach to date has been evolutionary rather than revolutionary. With broader developments already in train, such as NHS Digital’s new website and their General practice data hub, too much change might promote confusion rather than clarity. However, in starting from the helpful “landscape” document on the Government Statistical Service (GSS) website, we have:

  • added some missing items to present a more complete picture
  • signposted the GSS website from some of our organisations’ respective statistics home pages
  • looked at the publication timetables to identify opportunities to link up related releases, and
  • considered whether the titles given to certain reports are sufficiently meaningful in explaining their content – does it do what it says on the tin?

In the context of statistics and data made available without requirement to subscribe, and mindful of survey fatigue, a challenge that we are still grappling with is user engagement. The statistics user event before Christmas last year was a valuable insight into some of the key issues and perspectives from users in general sense, as well as examples of how others are approaching this. The concept of user personas was a helpful one and I think could allow us to frame initial and ongoing engagement in a targeted way.

An interesting emerging challenge – for all the theme groups – is that as the system aims to become more integrated, so the provision of statistics and data should also aim to become more integrated. While we have subject matter expertise in Primary and Dental Care and Oral Health, users want to know how trends in this domain impact what is happening in secondary care and vice versa.

Just as the theme groups are bringing together people from the different organisations in the system to improve coherence, the theme groups will need to liaise to provide a coherent picture of the system.  And as Allan Baker noted in last month’s blog post on the Health Inequalities Theme Group, some issues cut across all domains, further reinforcing the need for a matrix type approach.

Challenging times, but with huge opportunities to improve the utility of our work!

Andy Weaver
NHS England