Mental Health: bringing the value of data quality to an NHS region

Delivering data quality improvement for the Mental Health Services Data Set (MHSDS) across the South East (SE) region. 

The challenge

In late 2019 NHS England and Improvement (NHSE/I) South East regional team was tasked with making whole-patch improvement to mental health (MH) data quality. As a key single data source of information about all NHS commissioned MH services the MHSDS is a key support to the long-term plan. Significant variability in coverage and quality of the MHSDS meant that its value as a system reporting and planning resource was more limited. In the South East region, 33 of the 84 providers were not submitting any data to MHSDS, and of those who were much was of limited quality. The main consequence was limited confidence in the MHSDS data and a lack of understanding of its application. This often meant an unfair extra burden on providers as commissioners made ad-hoc data and reporting requests. There were two tasks:

  • Designing and delivering a targeted programme of work to improve the coverage and quality of the MHSDS submissions for the South East region.
  • Building an infrastructure to support aligning local, regional, and national strategies around data quality. The urgent demands of the pandemic meant data collection was deprioritised for some providers, to allow a focus on COVID-related service delivery.


Our solution

The key change was to help SE systems address data quality (DQ) issues, enabling them to take increased responsibility for improving their data quality, and improving overall reporting and assurance. We:

  • undertook system-level DQ assessments, to identify the challenges and to gather best practice approaches from colleagues. This would support the development of resources and the provision of tailored support to individual areas.
  • worked alongside commissioners and providers to support measurable improvements in DQ at a local and regional level.
  • provided continuing technical support to individual systems around key DQ priorities - coverage, validity, reduction in data burden, and the submission of outcomes.
  • continued to work in collaboration with systems to support the production of data quality action plans and associated roadmap/transition plans.

Next steps

We delivered Phase 1 by November 2020, and were recommissioned to deliver Phase 2, until March 2021. Phase 2 built on the progress and outcomes of Phase 1, building the infrastructure to support commissioners and providers take ownership of data quality improvement plans.

Added value

  • We harnessed our unique position to gather learning and best practice from colleagues across the SE region, sharing and supporting where required.
  • We provided ongoing technical support to commissioners and providers creating a culture of learning and co-production

“It’s been extremely valuable to have the dedicated support from SCW CSU for …developing bespoke improvement projects around Data Quality…via building on their existing relationships with our systems, bringing in relevant expertise ... We look forward to continuing our alliance..”

For more information contact Nadiya Ashraf, Deputy Director, Mental Health Transformation

More case studies