Public consultation by NHS Digital on aligning the publication days of official statistics

Closed 16 Feb 2018

Opened 4 Jan 2018

Feedback updated 17 Apr 2018

We asked

We asked for your support in deciding whether to rationalise the days on which we publish official statistics or to continue to publish as we do now on every week day except Mondays or the days that follow a public holiday.

You said

Fifty-nine per cent of you supported a change to publish on either one (34%) or two (25%) days of the week, whereas 41% voted for no change. Those responses supporting a reduction in the number of days we publish during the week, most commonly cited “Ease of access”, “Staff pressures and “Coherence” as reasons. Those who favoured no change most highlighted “Ease of access”, “Timeliness” and “Wider visibility” as reasons in support of their position, all of which we have taken into consideration in our new release strategy.

You highlighted the following broad reasons, which are listed in the order of the frequency they were raised:

  1. Ease of access (if all publications are released on one or the same day each week some responded it would make anticipating release days easier, while others responded it would decrease visibility if multiple important but unrelated publications came out on the same day)
  2. Staff pressures (for those requiring data from NHS Digital to perform their own analysis, some highlighted fewer release days would make planning and structuring work patterns simpler, while others highlighted an increase in workload on publication days)
  3. Timeliness (some were concerned that a rationalisation of dates would cause delays to the availability of statistics)
  4. Coherence (some users highlighted that similar themed publications released together is helpful, including when coordinated across multiple statistics producers)
  5. Wider visibility (some highlighted that releasing publications on the same day could diminish the visibility of some through media and other channels if on unrelated themes)

Therefore, we will take several measures to address these concerns as detailed in the We Did section.

We did

From June 2018 we will wherever possible consolidate publications on a specific topic on a single day (theme day) and provide a high-level overview of the findings alongside the individual publications. This should improve coherence of releases.

Most publications will be released on Thursday and we plan to develop a web page giving an overview of each Thursday’s releases improving ease of access. We expect some publications to speed up and some to slow down by potentially a couple of days. Exceptions to the Thursday release pattern will be made for very rapid turn-around publications to preserve their timeliness; particularly congested periods where our most substantial reports may be released on other days to ensure wider visibility; and reports that are aligned to other days due to the significance of that particular date or external related releases on that date to ensure coherence.

We will review how well this is achieving its objectives after a few months of implementation and make any further adjustments in line with user feedback.


NHS Digital produces around 300 statistical publications a year. These draw on survey data, administrative data, data from clinical systems and aggregate collections. To meet the specific needs of our users, they cover diverse areas including population health, NHS activity, social care, performance, outcomes, workforce and resources.

Our users include individual local NHS organisations, Local Authorities, charities, the Department of Health and its Arm’s Length Bodies, academia, the media and the public.

The statistical publications are subject to a range of time lags considering the type of data, the ability of organisations to submit the data, and the level of manual intervention needed when generating publications.

Some are rapid, automated monthly releases; others large annual reports.

NHS Digital’s statistical publications are currently released on any working day of the week except Monday, public holidays and days that follow public holidays.

Why your views matter

This consultation will support NHS Digital in deciding whether to rationalise the days on which it publishes official statistics or continue to publish as it does now.

This engagement with users ensures that we are following best practice on the principle of the Code of Practice for Official Statistics 2009 around: “Publish statistical reports according to a published timetable that takes account of user needs.”

All responses collected will be treated confidentially in line with the Data Protection act, personal details of respondents will not be associated with any published results of the survey or shared with anyone outside of NHS Digital.

When we consider the results, greater weight will be given to external users and to those who identify themselves or the organisation they are submitting on behalf of.

The consultation should take between 5 and 10 minutes to complete.

What happens next

The responses to this consultation will be analysed and a preferred option will be adopted by NHS Digital in the new financial year.


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