Published: 07/04/2005, Volume II5, No. 5949 Page 9

The new NHS statistics body will have 'failed' if managers in the service have not seen a major change in the way information is collated and provided within two years, the body's chair has said.

Mike Ramsden, chair of the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre, which took over responsibility for providing NHS statistics last week, said that unless frontline NHS staff had seen a huge improvement in the quality of information they had to work with, then the HSCIC's creation would have been a waste of time.

'Ministers would not have created this body if they did not want to see major change, ' he told HSJ.

Mr Ramsden also said the HSCIC would look to the private sector as well the NHS for effective ways of providing statistical information.

The HSCIC officially began work last week, taking over responsibility for NHS statistics from the NHS Information Authority and the Department of Health.

Discussions have taken place with managers, clinicians and patient groups to discover what was needed from an NHS information service. Mr Ramsden, formerly chief executive at Leeds health authority, said that concentrating on the information that users want should automatically reduce the collection burden.

He said cutting red tape was an important function of the HSCIC, but that it was equally important to develop a connection with the people who used NHS statistics.

'One legitimate criticism of what has happened in the past was that many people on the front line had very little feedback on the information being collected from them. It may well have been put to good use, but they might not know about it.' HSCIC shadow chief executive Professor Denise Lievesley, currently director of statistics at Unesco, will take up her post in July.