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Improving Surgical Data

How your hospital data is produced

This college guide explains how routine hospital activity data is generated throughout England.

For further information on service data for hospitals within England visit the NHS Digital website.

For information on healthcare data collection in the devolved nations see below:

What surgical data is available to you?

Information on available data sources providing bench-marking data at a provider level in the surgical outcomes webpage.

Consultant level data is published through the national audits. Further information on the audits and how to view data is available on the Audit page.

NHS Digital have an indicator library which brings a range of healthcare indicators into one place.

Improving terminology

The College has been working with NHS Digital and all the surgical specialties to define terminology that meets clinical needs. This terminology is called SNOMED-CT.

The following resources are available on SNOMED-CT and how to get involved in reviewing terms within your specialty areas:

Additional resources can be found on the NHS Digital website.

If you are interested in getting involved in reviewing SNOMED terms within your surgical specialty area please contact us on

Improving your local data

If you are able to work with the coding department within your organisation, you may be able support improvements in the way your activity is coded and ensure that data attributed to you and your team can be quality assured. This can benefit you both in terms of ensuring you have an accurate record about your service but also ensuring that payments are accurate.

The College has developed guidance explaining how your data is produced and providing some tips to support improved coding.

What are the current issues with routine activity data?

There are a variety of issues with current routine data collection within hospitals. Some of these include:

  • Outpatient reporting is not currently mandated and is patchy
  • Coding still relies on review and interpretation of notes. This means that there can be different ways of recording the same diagnosis or procedure which will then impact on how they are coded. For more information see ‘Clinical coding and your data’
Recording of inpatient activity is currently linked to the ‘admitting’ surgeon rather than the surgeon that carries out a procedure. This impacts surgeon’s ability to use routine data for revalidation, impacts on SAS doctors and trainees and also on the ability to use data for quality improvement.

The future of NHS data

Transparent and accessible data

The Coalition Government set out a proposal in 2013 that covered improved transparency of data across the public sector, including healthcare. This was laid out in detail in the 2014 publication by the National information Board ‘Personalised Health and Care 2020: Using Data and Technology to Transform Outcomes for Patients and Citizens’.

As surgeons will be aware, part of the Government’s push to improve patient’s access to healthcare data, was the publication of Consultant level data.

Further information is available at NHS Digital.

Electronic patient records

In order to fulfil the goals laid out in the ‘Personalised Health and Care 2020’ the NHS was challenged to go paperless by 2018. The main aim was to facilitate improved communication between different parts of the health.

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