Statistics Authority calls for greater cohesion in health stats

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

Recent correspondence between Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the chair of the UK Statistics Authority Andrew Dilnot, has suggested that a working group of representatives could be set up to review the coherence of the wide variety of health statistics currently being produced.
 
The issue was raised last month (October 2012) when Andrew Dilnot wrote to the health secretary voicing concerns that while great volumes of health data is currently being produced, there is an ‘absence of central co-ordination of its production and public availability’. The letter was accompanied by a review on the accessibility of official statistics on health which identified ‘22 UK organisations that produce official statistics relating to health, and a further 21 that publish relevant statistics but which are not currently formally recognised as producers of official statistics.’
 
The Statistics Authority chair also called for health statistics to be published for the UK as a whole rather than from the separate devolved administrations, and proposed that a web-based directory of health statistics be set up as a resource to answer questions such as ‘who produces what’ and ‘am I comparing like with like?’.
 
The health secretary’s response welcomed the proposal to set up a working group on the issue. He pointed out that many of the English bodies mentioned in Dilnot’s review were to be incorporated in to Public Health England, a new body being set up as of April 2013 as a result of the government’s reforms to public healthcare.
 
Regarding producers of official statistics, Hunt said that his department were working with the Cabinet Office who are ‘reviewing the secondary legislation that list official statistics producers, with a view to ensuring that appropriate organisations in the new architecture are properly listed’.
 
He also confirmed that the Health and Social Care Information Centre would be a ‘focal point for national data’ and that the overall strategy ‘envisages a single comprehensive portal for health data’.
 
Regarding UK-wide statistics, however, Jeremy Hunt acknowledged that since health policy has been devolved, there would be a ‘natural limit on the comparability that is achievable between the different information systems of different administrations.’
 

RSS to hold conference on statistics for adult social care policy

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

A major conference on the statistical base needed for adult social care policy is to be held by the Royal Statistical Society’s Statistics User Forum on 29 January 2013.
 
The keynote speaker is Andrew Dilnot, whose Commission on Funding of Care and Support identified the lack of a robust statistical base either for analysing the current social care situation or for monitoring and evaluating the effects of future changes.
 
This one-day conference at the Royal Statistical Society will bring together other experts in social care policy; analysts and researchers in government, academia and others concerned with social care policy delivery. Raphael Wittenberg from the LSE will give an overview of data currently available and use in England and Wales, while representatives from the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), along with social and health care think tanks NatCen and the Nuffield Trust, will give their views on how to fill the current gaps in statistical data in this area.
 
The conference will explore the adequacy of the statistics currently used to analyse adult social care service availability, utilisation and costs. It aims to identify the major issues for future study and to map out how they might be addressed, as well as provide some pointers for action in both the short and medium term.
 
Further information and registration details can be found on the StatsUserNet site.
 

Leveson gives verdict on press ethics – and on science reporting in the media

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

After almost 18 months since its launch, the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the press has been published, and recommends that a new independent, self-regulatory body be set up to uphold press standards and the right of victims of intrusion to seek redress.
 
While the report deals mainly with the media’s relationship with the public, politicians and police, many in the science community were hoping the report would include recommendations regarding the reporting of science, health and statistical data. And of the many submissions made to the Leveson Inquiry during its 70 days of hearings, there were some made by organisations such as the Science Media Centre and Sense About Science who made recommendations as to how the media should approach science reporting.
 
Overall, this document gave a positive review of the current scenario but listed a number of problems and suggested recommendations to improve the general standard of reporting. SMC chief executive Fiona Fox was also called to give oral evidence, after which Lord Leveson invited her ‘to provide some draft guidelines for science journalism which, if followed, would reduce the risk of the press printing the type of story that has received critical comment’. This resulted in the submission by the Science Media Centre of a document, 10 best practice guidelines for reporting science & health stories’, to which the RSS contributed. In his report, Lord Leveson described the guidelines as ‘commendable for their utility as well as their succinctness.’ He added that ‘Any new regulator should bear them closely in mind’.
 
Elsewhere, Lord Leveson also acknowledged the press’s responsibility when it comes to reporting science and health reporting. ‘In some cases, it will be neither easy nor obvious for readers to orientate themselves in relation to material they read in the press,’ he said, citing examples in science and health reporting, ‘where most non-specialist readers cannot easily judge for themselves what experts are telling us.’
 
Roeland Beerten, RSS Director of Public Affairs, said ‘It is clear the Leveson report, although only just published, will continue to drive the discussion on the quality of media reporting.  The RSS is successfully working with a range of journalists and media organisations to help ensure the reporting on numbers and science issues is accurate, and no doubt the report published today will stimulate a wider debate in which our work will be relevant.’
 

StatsWales is relaunched

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

StatsWales, the website which publishes a range of statistics pertaining to Wales, has been relaunched.
 
The website, which is published in both English and Welsh, retains many of the features of the previous site, with access to a range of official statistics, including population, economy, health, education, housing and transport. However, the new site has been designed to be easier to navigate. In order to facilitate a graduate transition, the old site will be available to users until 31 December (however, it will cease to be updated from now on). The new site has a help guide with an online training video to talk users through its main features.
 
Chief Statistician Kate Chamberlain explained that StatsWales has improved the ways in which users can view and download the data for their own use. ‘Furthermore, it provides us with a sound platform on which to build future developments,’ she added.
 
Feedback on the functionality of the new site is welcomed, and users are encouraged to register so that StatsWales can better understand how people use the site and tailor its developments accordingly. The Welsh government is seeking feedback on the content and timing of its official statistics on health, as well as its statistical outputs on the Welsh economic and labour market. Details on how to contribute are on the statistics section of the Welsh Government website.
 
 

UN director of statistics steps down

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

Paul Cheung, the director of the UN’s Statistics Division (UNSD) is to step down from his post as of 31 December 2012.
 
He leaves after nine years of service, citing personal reasons. He is to return to his home country of Singapore and join the National University of Singapore as a professor.
 
During Cheung’s time at the UN, its Statistical Division has grown from 76 member states in 2004 to 136 in 2012. It organised the World Statistics Day in 2010 and in 2011, began a major initiative to integrate statistical and geospatial information on a global scale in the Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) project.
 
In his resignation letter, Cheung thanked his colleagues at UNSD. ‘I am deeply grateful for the support, guidance and friendship you have provided me throughout my tenure,’ he wrote. ‘It was a great honour for me to have had the opportunity to lead the Statistics Division for almost nine years. It was indeed a most fulfilling period in my career.’
 
Cheung indicated that recruitment for a new director would soon begin. ‘I trust that under the new management, UNSD will blossom brightly as an institution of great standing,’ he added.
 

Report values UK’s mathematical science research at £208billion

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

A new report has put a figure on the value that mathematical science research (MSR) brings to the UK’s economy.
 
According to Measuring the Economic Benefits of Mathematical Science Research (opens as a pdf), the value added to the economy by MSR directly is £208billion – around 16% of the UK’s total GVA (which stands for gross value added – the value of output less the value of intermediate consumption).
 
The independent study, by consulting firm Deloitte, was commissioned by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in partnership with the Council for Mathematical Sciences (CMS), of which the Royal Statistical Society is a founding member. It’s the first of its kind to quantify the economic value of maths research in the UK.
 
The report estimates that in 2010, there were approximately 2.8million jobs (around 10% of all jobs in the UK) directly related to mathematical sciences, many in computer science and R&D, with high numbers in aerospace, pharmaceuticals, public administration, banking and finance, construction and education.
 
As well as direct economic impact, the report also looks at the broader implications that mathematical science research has on society and the economy. Taking into account what the report calls ‘indirect’ and ‘induced economic impacts’ of mathematical science research, it estimates the total employment in the UK attributable to this sector to be nearly 10 million, with a total GVA of £556 billion.
 
The importance of statistics within MSR was highlighted in the report’s list of three key contributions that the sector makes across the UK’s economy; the ability to ‘make sense of data’ was one, and the ability to ‘forecast, address uncertainty’ was another.
 
The report also recognises MSR as a driver of long-term economic growth, in terms of creating new tools, techniques, patents and commercial applications as well as contributing to product innovation and greater efficiency.
 
Professor Frank Kelly, who chairs the CMS, said that the flow of trained mathematical scientists into the industries of the future was critical to the UK’s economic growth prospects. ‘Whole sectors of the economy are transformed by new, essentially mathematical, technologies,’ he said.
 
Professor Kelly also noted the bright prospects for young mathematicians and statisticians. ‘Young people with an aptitude and interest in the subject will find university mathematics and statistics to be beautiful, challenging and extraordinarily stimulating,’ he said. ‘They should be reassured that, in addition, it is a subject which underpins our 21st century technology, economy and society, and that the demand for trained mathematical scientists is exceptionally high.’
 
Highlights of the study are available to download here.
 

New data protection code of practice published

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published its data protection code of practice on managing the risks related to anonymisation.
 
The code explains how to protect the privacy rights of individuals while providing rich sources of data, and is published as the UK government releases more and more anonymised data into the public domain.
 
The ICO launched a consultation prior to the publication of the code of practice, to which the RSS contributed back in August this year. Christopher Graham, UK Information Commissioner, said the new code of practice would ‘bring a greater consistency of approach’ and ‘provide a framework for practitioners to use when considering whether to produce anonymised information.’
 
Anyone who processes personal information must comply with the Data Protection Act, and failure to anonymise personal data correctly can result in enforcement action from the ICO. However, Christopher Graham was keen to highlight the benefits that increased transparency of government data can bring. ‘We hope today’s guidance helps practitioners to protect privacy and enable the use of data in exciting and innovative ways,’ he said at the launch.
 
The ICO has also announced funding for a consortium led by the University of Manchester, with the University of Southampton, Office for National Statistics and the government’s new Open Data Institute (ODI), to run a new UK Anonymisation Network, to be known as UKAN. Over the next two years, UKAN will help organisations across the public and private sector to enable good practice regarding anonymisation, with clinics, seminars and case studies on a new website which is due to launch in early 2013.
 

Join the RSS

Join the RSS

Become part of an organisation which works to advance statistics and support statisticians

Copyright 2019 Royal Statistical Society. All Rights Reserved.
12 Errol Street, London, EC1Y 8LX. UK registered charity in England and Wales. No.306096

Twitter Facebook YouTube RSS feed RSS feed RSS newsletter

We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies and Terms of Use.