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RCN & BMA joint letter to NHSE on continuing to publish SitRep data

07 April 2022
Amanda Pritchard
Chief Executive
NHS England

Sent via email

Wednesday 6 April 2022

Dear Amanda,

The transparent and timely release of data has been a key feature of the pandemic, therefore we do not consider it appropriate for the release of the NHS SitReps to come to an end this week.

As representatives of the NHS nursing and medical workforce, we believe it is essential that real-time information on our members’ professional experience is accessible. Transparent live data has been critical to see the level of COVID-19-related staff absences. Only this month, there was a sharp increase of 82% – in keeping with a nationwide increase in cases.

This information is vital so that we and the NHS can understand the impact of staff absences on capacity and safe working. We understand that NHS England will continue to publish data on COVID-19 hospital activity - including the monthly publication of COVID-related staff absences. While this information is indeed a more accurate and timely representation of the situation, when compared to the NHS Digital publication, the frequency at which this is published means that we do not have access to real-time information on workforce numbers.

The weekly publication of this data has given a real-time understanding of current workforce pressures and allowed us to develop important resources and support for our members – those recovering from ill-health and those working under increased pressure to provide services with fewer colleagues.

We understand that NHS Trusts will still be required to report on their local absences, and this data must continue to be released to the public and organisations like ours with the same level of regularity and detail. This is important to ensure transparency and accountability for workforce issues within the NHS.

Likewise, given current pressures on the system in which our members work, it is important that weekly data on, for example, critical care bed capacity and ambulance handovers delays continue to be collected and published in a regular and timely manner as this information provides a clear indication of hospital capacity constraints and indicators affecting patient safety. It will also allow for the impacts of ongoing pressures from COVID-19 and the backlog on the NHS workforce and system to be tracked and responded to.

With COVID-19 infections reaching a record high in the UK, now is not the time to stop publishing this helpful data and we urge you to consider extending the weekly publication of NHS SitRep data.

Yours sincerely,

Carol Popplestone, RCN Chair of Council

Dr Latifa Patel, BMA acting representative body chair

Page last updated - 13/04/2022