|Title and link to statistical output||Seasonal flu vaccine uptake in GP patients: monthly data, 2021 to 2022|
|Name of producer organisation||UK Health Security Agency|
|Name and contact details of person dealing with report||Jennifer Snape (Jennifer.email@example.com)|
|Name and contact details of Head of Profession for Statistics/Lead Official||Lucy Vickers (Lucy.Vickers@dhsc.gov.uk)|
|Link to published statement about the breach (if relevant)|
|Date of breach report||15-Nov-21|
|Relevant principle(s) and practice(s)||T2.9 In rare circumstances, an organisation may not be able to implement a specific practice of the Code. In this situation, the Chief Statistician/Head of Profession for Statistics should request an exemption from that practice of the Code from the Director General for Regulation and publish details of the exemption.|
T3.6 Statistics should be released to all users at 9.30am on a weekday.
|Date of occurrence of breach||28-Oct-21|
The publication affected is the Seasonal influenza vaccine uptake amongst GP patients in England- provisional monthly data for September 2021. This was due to be published on Thursday 28 October 2021 at 9.30. The publication of the monthly GP data was delayed while data quality assurance was completed. The delay was related to the knock-on effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the time required for planning an expanded flu immunisation programme.
Once the cohorts and data collection specification were confirmed, development began on the ImmForm website. The ImmForm team was also working on urgent COVID-19 vaccination data systems. Given the late confirmation and the ministerial request to report one month earlier than usual, this led to less time to develop the data collections. This compressed development timeline and concurrent pandemic work led to the data collections being released one week later to data providers (compared to monthly reporting timeframes in previous seasons) and the decision was taken to the extend the reporting period for one week to allow for a higher response rate. However, the delays and extension of the data collections meant that there was less time to process the data itself in time for the report due on Thursday 28 October 2021.
In the run up to the publication, the team were aware of the tight deadlines but were aiming to keep to the pre-announced date to avoid a breach in the Code of Practice for Statistics. Before start of business on Thursday 28 October 2021 the team had a meeting to discuss the potential for a breach at 9.30. At the meeting it was agreed to aim for a later release at 17:00. A set of internal emails were circulated to pre-release stakeholders to inform them of a delay. The landing page was also updated in the public domain to inform users of a revised 17:00 publication time.
Following a further assessment of the data issues, by mid-afternoon, it was clear the data assurance process would need more time and the team agreed to move the publication slot to 1 November 2021 (17.00).
The report went live on 1 November 2021 at 17:00.
The data being published in the report is retrospective data for vaccinations given from the 1 September 2021 to 30 September 2021. This is the first season that monthly data has been published this early in the season. For past seasons monthly data has been published for the first time in November (covering vaccinations given between 1 September and 31 October 2021). Therefore, there is no comparative data for the same time period in previous seasons. Therefore, even with a publication date of Monday 1 November 2021, this would still be an earlier publication of the data than previous years.
The monthly data that was delayed includes more detailed data on the number of vaccinations given and allows for lags in the data flows. This data is still available internally on a weekly basis at the finer geographies via the ImmForm website and does not impact internal reporting.
This is the first time that the monthly data has been published this early in the year and is not used in any subsequent publications that we are aware of. There are also summary lines on provisional weekly data from the GP surveys covering the same cohorts that was published as usual at 14:00 on Thursday 28 October 2021 in the Weekly national Influenza and COVID-19 surveillance report. The weekly data is a snapshot of the data to the previous week and therefore provides more timely data than the monthly report to inform trends and decisions.
The team have not had any queries relating to the late publication.
The team worked to minimise the impact by publishing a statement on the landing page informing users of the delay and when to expect the reports. This was then updated when it became clear the report could not be published that day.
The publication process has been reviewed internally and the next publication time has been moved back to 14:00, as per previous publications. This has since been agreed by the OSR as a formal exemption.