Official Statistics and Health: Developing coherent and accessible health statistics: a UK perspective (Online)

Date: Monday 20 November 2023, 1.00PM
Location: Online
Section Group Meeting

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During this afternoon of discussion, we will be exploring with our panels the approaches and challenges faced by organisations producing health related statistics across the UK to ensure the numbers and messages produced are accessible and meaningful to the public and other users.


In the first session (1-3pm), the panel will cover work across government departments and organisations to create a coherent system to produce comparable statistics across the four nations of the UK. They will touch upon the importance of presenting a coherent picture across the UK, at national and subnational levels, the data challenges, including how the definitions used can change the meaning of the statistics produced and how the public understand them.  We will hear the experiences from people working in that area to improve the coherence of our statistical system to those that used these statistics to inform policy. 


Our panel will include the head of the Office for Statistics Regulation Ed Humpherson, Lucy Vickers, Deputy Director - Statistics & Data Science at the Department for Health and Social Care, Julie Stanborough, Deputy Director for Health and Social Care Analysis at the Office for National Statistics with colleagues Michelle Waters and Heidi Wilson who work together with colleagues across the four nations on improving the UK-wide coherence on health statistics. They will be joined by Willian Perks (Head of health, social services and population statistics, Welsh Government), and colleagues from Scotland and Northern Ireland. We are also looking to bring into the discussion the perspectives from local authorities around the challenges of low-granularity meaningful statistics.


After a break, the second session (3.30-5.30pm) will discuss how we communicate statistics to users in a sensitive and accessible manners. The language of statistics, especially in the health context can be extremely technical and emotionally charged with words such as 'risks', 'hazards' and 'uncertainty'. Those terms have a very specific meaning for a statistician which differs from the one the general public gives to these words. In this session, our panellists will share their experience in communicating sometimes complex concepts to a wide audience, balancing transparent and accurate reporting with accessibility.  They will share what they have tried, what worked and what did not and ideas to communicate clearly in that area, in a time where misleading information spreads fast and that mistakes in communication have the potential to damage the trust users have in the organisations producing the statistics.


The second panel will include both statistics producers (ONS engagement hub lead, and Lucy Vickers from DHSC, William Perks from Welsh Government) and the head of the Office for Statistics Regulation Ed Humpherson, individuals that champions promoting public understanding of statistics (David Schley from Sense about Science, Rhian Davies a RSS Statistics Ambassador), and charity and users groups.

Concessionary RSS Fellow    £10
RSS CStat/GradStat               £12.50
RSS Fellow                             £15
Non-members                         £20