Information needed Response
Title and link to statistical output Pharmacies ensuring swift patient care
Name of producer organisation Public Health Scotland
Name and contact details of person dealing with report Scott Wilson

Scott Heald
Scott Heald

Link to published statement about the breach (if relevant)
Date of breach report 09/11/2021

Information needed Response
Relevant principle(s) and practice(s) T3 Orderly Release
Date of occurrence of breach 09/11/2021

Although T3 of the Code of Practice for Statistics states that organisations should commit to releasing their statistics in an open and transparent manner that promotes public confidence.

Public Health Scotland (PHS) provided management information in the form of a monthly e-messaging report relating to Pharmacy First data, to colleagues in the Scottish Government. The latest release included statistics labelled for management information purposes only which should not be used widely or in the public view. The Scottish Government published a press release on the 9th November 2021 that contains aggregate data on Pharmacy First activity that is likely to have come from the PHS management information e-message.

This issue was raised by Scottish Government to Public Health Scotland on the 11/11/2021.

It is unclear if the Public Health Scotland management information is the only source of this data as no exact figures have been used in the press release. However, aggregate data based on the PHS management information suggests that this is the case.

Public Health Scotland have not been attributed to these statistics, however as Public Health Scotland’s unpublished data has likely been used, this is in breach of the code of practice for statistics.
There are no personal identifiable data used, nor is any of the data deemed to be of a disclosure or sensitive nature, therefore the impact of the breach is low. As far as we know, there have been no complaints or communications for any member of the public or any organisation as at the time of writing.

As a results of this breach and to remind colleagues on the Code of Practice for Statistics standards, discussions between Public Health Scotland prescribing colleagues and the Scottish Government were established and are ongoing to highlight and raise awareness that data within the monthly e-messaging report relating to Pharmacy First data should not be used in public, until an agreement has been made to follow the publication process and ensure a full pre-announced and confirmed publication has been achieved. There has since been agreement and clarity on the future use of this data in line with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

Management Information caveats are included on the monthly e-messaging report to highlight the requirements of this embargoed data to prevent further breaches of this nature.