Information needed Response
Title and link to statistical output Statistics on Women's Smoking Status at Time of Delivery: England Quarter 4, 2020-21
Name of producer organisation NHS Digital
Name and contact details of person dealing with report Steve Barber-Hayes, NHS Digital
Name and contact details of Head of Profession for Statistics or Lead Official Sunita Wilkhu, NHS Digital
Link to published statement about the breach (if relevant)
Date of breach report 5 July 2021

Information needed Response
Relevant principle(s) and practice(s) Accidental or wrongful early release (Practices T3.3, T3.4)
Date of occurrence of breach 5 July 2021

Statistics on Women’s Smoking Status at Time of Delivery: England Quarter 4, 2020-21 was due for publication by NHS Digital (NHS D) on 6 July 2021. Pre-release access was received by colleagues in the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on 5 July 2021 in line with the NHS D pre-release access list.

The pre-release access material was circulated by the DHSC briefing co-ordinator to all those on the DHSC pre-release access list at 09:53 on 5 July 2021. One of the recipients forwarded this email as a reply to the briefing co-ordinator at 10:23 on 5 July 2021, copying in one colleague not on the pre-release access list.

This error was spotted shortly after, and DHSC alerted this colleague at 10:36 on 5 July 2021, stressing they must not share this any further and to delete the e-mail.

DHSC reported the breach shortly after to NHS Digital Statistical Governance at 10:47 on 5 July 2021, requesting advice on this issue in order to ensure the proper procedures were followed.

Externally there was no impact. Internally there was minimal impact. DHSC forwarded pre-release access materials to a colleague not included on the approved pre-release access list before the publication went live. This colleague was in the management chain of those involved in the briefing, and in the team in which the publication related to.

The breach was spotted promptly, and the colleague emailed shortly after. The information was not shared further, and the incident was reported to NHS Digital Statistical Governance.

NHS Digital Statistical Governance has stated on every document like the pre-release access (PRA) form, on every confirmed PRA form e-mail, including the 24-hour pre-release e-mails that are sent out that this information is not to be shared outside of the approved PRA list, as this will be a breach.

NHS Digital has spoken to the specific colleagues in DHSC to make them aware of the process and the importance of adhering to the Code of Practice for Statistics.

Currently DHSC check PRA lists in advance of briefings to keep PRA lists to a minimum before sending over to NHS D for approval. In future it has been agreed that this process will also be used to reiterate that information shared under PRA is strictly for those named on the list and should not be shared further.

DHSC’s will be refreshing training and reminding colleagues of the purpose and importance of adhering to the PRA rules.

DHSC will liaise with NHS Digital Statistical Governance on any additional guidance that is required going forward.