IHPN Quarterly Data – NHS Activity, Q1 2024


Currently, NHS England activity data relating to the independent sector is published in three main reports.

The first, Consultant-led Referral to Treatment (RTT) waiting times data looks at patient pathways – the journey a patient takes from the point of referral to the point at which a treatment episode ‘stops the clock’ on their waiting time. There are four groups of patients covered by RTT data:

  • Admitted patients – patients whose RTT pathway ends as the result of being admitted to a care setting for treatment during the period the dataset covers
  • Non-Admitted patients – patients whose RTT pathways ends for reasons other than being admitted to a care setting for treatment
  • Incomplete pathways – patients still waiting to start treatment at the end of the period the dataset covers
  • New admissions – patients who have been newly referred and started an RTT pathway during the period the dataset covers.

The second is the Independent Sector Weekly Activity Return (WAR) dataset. This data covers a broader range of activity than RTT data, and is published closer to the end of the reporting period – but has less opportunity for providers to update their reporting for greater accuracy. While RTT data only covers elective activity commissioned by an ICB, WAR also covers diagnostic activity, and, importantly, activity directly commissioned (sub-contracted) by another provider – usually an NHS Trust. It does not capture insourced activity (activity delivered by staff from an external organisation using an NHS Trust’s own facilities), but is currently the most complete measure for ‘total’ independent sector activity.

In April 2024, NHS England also began publication of RTT data from its Waiting List Minimum Data Set (WLMDS) data collection. This replicates some of the information gathered through the RTT dataset, but has a shorter lag time. The long term intention is to replace the RTT data publication with WLMDS.

Finally, NHS England also publishes a monthly diagnostic dataset, covering waiting times and activity and a community services waiting times dataset. These include some data for independent providers, but are not yet a comprehensive data source for IS activity.

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