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PA Consulting Group statement: use of HSCIC data

3 March 2014


PA works closely with the NHS to improve patient care and has done so for over 20 years. For example we have supported the National Orthopaedics Programme, and helped to reduce waiting times for NHS operations. 

Over the past two years we have run a project to show the NHS how insight can be quickly and cost-effectively generated from large volumes of health data, enabling better care for patients.  PA signed a data sharing agreement to gain access to the Hospital Episode Statistics dataset from the Health and Social Care Information Centre. The dataset does not contain information that can be linked to specific individuals and is held securely in the cloud in accordance with conditions specified and approved by HSCIC.  Access to the dataset is tightly controlled and restricted to the small PA project team. 

Our new approach to extracting insight from large volumes of data can help the NHS improve patient care.  We have shown where services are needed most by patients and identified previously unseen side effects of drugs and treatments.  Our approach protects patient confidentiality and allows insights to be derived at significantly lower cost, and a hundred times faster, than any traditional approach. 

Background Notes

The data set does not contain patient name, address, NHS number or Date of Birth. In addition we have followed all the conditions specified by the NHS such as the small numbers rule and giving access to the underlying data to others.

We applied for access for up to 12 people, but in practice only four people have regularly accessed the information.