At A-Level I studied Politics, and have always been curious about how government works, but I graduated from university with a BSc in Mathematics and an MSc in Mathematical Finance. Once the certainty that a maths degree will guarantee me a job wore off, and it did so quickly, I started looking outside the box and ironically found work that is most relevant to my interests.
I applied in the second round of the statistical stream, which begins in March, so unlike a lot of other fast streamers, my application process only took three months and I found myself starting a new job a week after giving in my dissertation.
I am a statistician at the Department of Health, in an analytical branch of the NHS Finance, Performance and Operations directorate, incidentally called Knowledge and Intelligence and based here. We collect, publish, analyse and disseminate data that can be found on the NHS performance website. A lot of the work we do is also published in the Deputy NHS Chief Exec’s publication ‘The Quarter’.
Some highlights of work produced by approximately 25 people in K&I during 2010/11 include:
• 317 publications published on the Department of Health website; spanning primary, secondary, mental health, community and social care
• 29 data returns in the Unify2 K&I domain, comprising 427 separate data collections run by K&I during 2010-11
• 100 reports produced for use by DH and the NHS, covering 380 different indicators and involving collaboration with over seventeen separate stakeholders.
• 625,000 data items validated, processed, graphed, RAG rated and analysed by the reporting team
This week has been an interesting one. Two of the collections I lead on are monthly and published next Thursday. Two people work on each collection, so between us we have to extract the data submitted by the NHS, chase any that are missing and validate all the data once we have it. When the data are ready we can calculate percentages, rates, medians, and other useful figures, and get it all in a publishable format. We also have a press notice to write that accompanies the data on the internet, and a submission to ministers that is sent up under normal pre-release access arrangements.
For one of these collections, we have between two and four working days to get the above done and submitted on time. And we have other work going on alongside this. At the moment it is all about breast implants, and establishing some baseline information. So far I have read emails full of spreadsheets from virtually every NHS provider in England in an attempt to establish some much needed facts. Next week I can look forward to the extensive media coverage of the work I am involved in.