Health and Social Care Bill

Memorandum submitted by Lightfoot Solutions (HSR 46)

About Lightfoot


Lightfoot Solutions provide evidence based performance improvement, on demand business intelligence, and information services to a number of NHS Trusts and Regional Observatories. This is facilitated using data provided by the NHS Information Centre, data collected directly from Foundation/Provider Trusts and other available local and NHS data.



In order to make full use of NHS data it needs to be available in a format and location that enables it to be readily loaded or transferred to computer systems and data warehouses to be combined with other local and national data.

At the moment the emphasis is on publishing data in human readable format – not generally suitable for integrating with reporting and business intelligence systems. For example the data is in formatted spread sheets or summary form.

The key obstacles to providing accurate and timely information to users and organisations within the NHS are –

· Inconsistent standards for publishing data including the format and location of the data

· The lack of a common platform for automated downloading/refreshing of centrally held data

· A tendency to publish tabular, formatted or summarised data suitable for human consumption rather than machine readable underlying data

These issues often make data driven projects and initiatives either expensive or impractical due to the time and effort required to acquire the information from various sources. We request that there be a clear duty placed on the Information Centre to provide data in standard and automatically accessible manner suitable for re-use in downstream reporting and computer systems. This would in effect be an NHS data mart.



Paragraph 256 Publication of Information

Sections (8), (9) and (10)

We believe there needs to be stronger provision in the act regarding publishing of data. In particular the Act needs to confer on the Information Centre a duty to ensure that data will be in a form that can be used as a trusted machine readable electronic data source across the NHS. We therefore believe that the following requirements should be in the bill.

1) The Information Centre should provide a common platform on which all underlying data collected\held by them is published in an electronically downloadable form

2) That the platform should present the data in a common machine readable electronic form such as a SOAP interface, XML documents or CSV files.

3) That links to data are persistent so updated data is published to the same format and location as previous data with any changes subject to change control.

4) That the structure and content of the data are properly documented

5) That access to individual files and sets of data is controlled by a login based security model

Lightfoot believe that electronic access to data is a major issue across the NHS. Proper provision of such as platform is therefore core to evidence based performance improvement and the timely and accurate dissemination of information across the NHS. 

July 2011

Prepared 19th July 2011