Health data is a key part of the ONS’s work; from tracking the pandemic to charting life expectancy, measuring mortality to counting carers and disability – it allows us to build an understanding of the nation’s health.
Underpinning much of this analysis are our population statistics, which show us how the characteristics of different community groups, such as ethnicity, age and living circumstances, contribute to health and health outcomes.
For example, our estimates of the number of people with chronic respiratory or cardiovascular disease living in poverty, linked health records with data from the 2021 Census.
We also used census data to estimate the socio demographic risk factors of suicide.
Looking to the future, with an aging population and ever more complex health needs as a society, it is crucial that our data resources are up to the challenge – and that’s where we want to hear from you.
More timely data
We are currently running a public consultation which will help shape the future of population and migration statistics.
We want to create a sustainable system for producing these essential statistics about the population, a system which is more flexible and responsive to unexpected change.
This will unlock a wealth of possibilities for health analysis and understanding.
So, instead of relying on the latest census data, which can sometimes be a decade old, ONS has been looking at the potential of moving to a system with administrative data at its core that would provide more timely data.
This is information we all provide when we access health services and other systems like tax and benefits. Alongside this could be survey data, and a wider range of other data sources and statistical modelling.
Why is this important?
High-quality, up to date, population statistics are essential to planning a wealth of services, such as doctors’ surgeries or community care.
Currently the census provides the backbone of these statistics, giving us a rich picture at national and local level.
For example, it tells us about the carers population and about those living with illness or disability. However, this becomes less accurate over the decade as we move away from the census year.
A system that responds to needs and can deliver yearly population updates will provide invaluable insight into health.
This real time information would enable healthcare planners to understand where interventions are needed the most and to see what health challenges different communities are facing.
Have your say
The consultation asks a small number of open questions to get a better understanding of user needs and priorities, which will help to shape our plans for these important statistics.
Responses to this consultation will inform a recommendation by the National Statistician on how the ONS should produce statistics about the population in the future.
Please visit the following link to have your say: Consultation on the future of population and migration statistics in England and Wales – Office for National Statistics – Citizen Space.
The consultation will close on 26 October.