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Poor data hampers design of physio services across Northern Ireland

30 July 2014 - 2:32pm

The NHS in Northern Ireland is struggling to produce robust evidence for the design and delivery of physiotherapy services because of problems with data management.

‘It is hard to predict capacity and demand at the moment,’ said Hazel Winning, the lead allied health professions officer at the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS).

Ms Winning said the dramatic change was due to new calculation methods, as the DHSSPS seeks to standardise the ways it captures and analyses NHS data.

Inconsistent data is a legacy from before Northern Ireland’s NHS review. A major reorganisation in 2007 abolished 18 trusts and replaced them with the five integrated health and social care trusts, but existing data management practices remained.

Ms Winning said the department is working to develop ‘strong, robust data’ to underpin services, without which it is very difficult to identify pressure points and allocated resources.

‘Over the next six months we envisage there will be a slight variation in the data, as people become more familiar with the interpretation of the definitions,’ said Ms Winning.

‘We think it’s now about 85 per cent correct, but there is a little bit of variance and those queries are being raised with the Public Health Authority’.

This story was amended on 22 October for the following reason: Data given to Frontline in July from the DHSSPS, relating to a reduction in waiting times in May, wrongly referred to podiatry waits.

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