RSS calls for review into England’s health data 

The RSS has called for a formal government review of England’s health data, similar to the Bean review of economic statistics.

Sylvia Richardson, who co-chairs the RSS Covid-19 Task Force, made the call on behalf of the RSS while giving evidence to MPs yesterday at the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s (PACAC) inquiry into Covid-19 data transparency and accountability.  

Since the pandemic has highlighted the issues with the current system and the need for better data, Professor Richardson said, this review would ideally have a focus on the needs of users, such as local authorities and health trusts.  

The RSS and Professor Richardson have also called for greater transparency, and recommended that any data referred to in support of a policy decision should be published alongside it.  

In written evidence, the Society calls on the government to publish a clear framework for how data will be used to make decisions regarding lockdowns. During the PACAC session, Professor Richardson also stressed the misguided focus on achieving large numbers without a clear statement of the government’s objective, which was a point made by the RSS in September regarding the leaked ‘moonshot’ plans.  

The RSS also calls for better resources for the Office of Statistics Regulation, so it can increase the work it does in identifying issues with the production of statistics. And if regular briefings are required for England, independent and non-partisan communication of data should be ensured, for example, by briefings being held by the National Statistician rather than politicians.  

Also giving evidence at the session was fellow task force co-chair David Spiegelhalter (speaking in a personal capacity), along with Full Fact CEO Will Moy and Dr Ben Worthy, a senior lecturer in politics.   

Watch a recording of PACAC’s meeting.

Read the RSS’s written evidence to the Committee.


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