Health and Social Care

Why is data so important for the National Care Service?

January 31, 2023 by No Comments | Category National Care Service

Consistently collecting data will be essential to the success of the National Care Service. The National Care Service (Scotland) Bill includes a provision to allow Scottish Ministers to set information standards and ensure that the NCS and NHS bodies and their contractors comply with these. 

At the moment social care data is currently collected in many ways across Scotland.​ This can make it difficult to automatically share data between systems, leading to people having to repeat their story many times. This can be frustrating, time consuming and in some cases traumatic for people receiving care.​ 

It also leads to  poorer quality information. It is difficult to bring together and analyse data if it is collected in different ways across the country or locked away in formats like pdfs, which are sometimes difficult to access. 

Why should data be collected consistently?  

Collecting data consistently will be important for all aspects of data use in the National Care Service. It will be especially vital to ensure the system can understand and meet people’s needs, particularly if they are accessing lots of different services. Making the approach to data collection the same across the country also ensures good quality statistics are provided which can be used to improve services in the future.  

It is really important the language used to collect information accurately represents a person’s story. This reduces the likelihood of the person having to repeat the same information about themselves to different services and organisations. 

Having data standards (or information standards) is basically having a common approach to recording data so that it is collected consistently. This enables systems to share data because they can understand each other. It becomes a common language for systems to ensure they are able to share and use information.  

What data will be important for the NCS? 

There are several aspects that need to be considered when improving the consistency of data for the NCS: 

  • What data should go into a person’s record – for example, what data should be collected when somebody has a care assessment? 
  • Making sure that we use common data definitions – for example, what we mean by the term “Care Plan”?  
  • How we use data to make decisions – for example, how should data be used to determine whether somebody is eligible for care? 
  • How data should be stored and exchanged between systems  

If you have any questions or comments regarding data standards in social care or the National Care Service, please reach out to  


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