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GP commissioners blighted by poor hospital data

CCGs will be undermined if hospitals continue to supply poor quality data, a damning new report has warned.

The first annual report on the quality of nationally submitted health and social care data for England found an error rate of 7% in key data fields submitted by hospitals with some trusts having error rates higher than 20%.

The findings follow the launch of an investigation into ‘creative coding' by hospital managers revealed exclusively by Pulse.

The new report by the NHS Information Centre found the error rate in Payment by Results data ranged from zero to more than 20% at some hospitals

It also found seven local authorities submitted some adult social care returns with 15-20% of data incomplete. Two councils submitted a return with more than 20% missing.

The report blamed the NHS reforms for a deterioration in data quality - citing this among key influences including lack of standards and guidance, poor training and awareness of the impact of poor data quality and local system updates and changes.

The report concluded: ‘Poor quality of data undermines confidence in information used to plan and commission services, assess quality, facilitate patient choice, support audit and research  and ensure effective use of resources.

‘Data needs to be "fit for purpose"for its intended use,' the report warned.

Pulse revealed in May that hospitals in the South West were being investigated after a raft of coding errors that resulted in practices being overcharged by as much as £30,000 in some cases – with one patient reportedly admitted to hospital every day for three months.

NHS Information Centre chief executive Tim Straughan said: ‘High quality information is essential for effective planning and commissioning and we want to see providers across the NHS give their fullest attention to ensuring accurate and comprehensive medical and managerial data.

‘We see these initial findings as a starting point from which we will track improvements in data quality year on year.

‘Each trust has its own summary data quality report which will help them focus on any areas that they need to prioritise.'