Information needed Response
Title and link to statistical output NHS activity and performance summary: June and July 2021
NHS activity and performance summary: June and July 2021 | GOV.WALES
Name of producer organisation Welsh Government

Name and contact details of person dealing with report Rachel Dolman
0300 025 1612
Name and contact details of Head of Profession for Statistics or Lead Official Stephanie Howarth
0300 025 1154
Link to published statement about the breach (if relevant)
Date of breach report 19/08/2021

Information needed Response
Relevant principle(s) and practice(s) T3: Orderly release
T3.3 Access to statistics before their public release should be limited to those involved in the production of the statistics and the preparation of the release, and for quality assurance and operational purposes. Accurate records of those who have access before they are finalised should be maintained
T3.4 The circulation of statistics in their final form ahead of their publication should be restricted to eligible recipients, in line with the rules and principles on pre-release access set out in legislation for the UK and devolved administrations. The details of those granted access should be recorded, together with clear justifications for access. No indication of the statistics should be made public and the statistics should not be given to any other party without prior permission for access. The list of recipients should be reviewed regularly and kept to a minimum.

V2: Accessibility: Statistics and data should be equally available to all, not given to some people before others. They should be published at a sufficient level of detail and remain publicly available.

Date of occurrence of breach 19/08/2021

The health statistics team within Welsh Government circulated the statistics ‘NHS activity and performance summary: June and July 2021’ to named individuals on the pre-release access list at 10.35am 18 August 2021, ahead of publication at 9.30am on 19 August 2021. This was in line with pre-release access arrangements.

The email contained appropriate markings and instructions that the statistics had been provided under pre-release access and the content should not be shared, and no indication of what the statistics showed should be shared prior to publication. The documents were placed in a restricted area that only named individuals could access.

On the morning of 19 August, prior to publication, during a media interview with BBC Radio Cymru, the Minister for Health and Social Services stated that the numbers waiting more than 52 weeks for treatment had fallen again.

The Minister was using a briefing pack, covering different topics, ahead of a number of media interviews taking place throughout the day on 19 August, and it’s likely she mistakenly quoted restricted information in the briefing that was intended for later interviews.

The breach took place shortly before the figures were due to be published. As a consequence, the figures were shared with the general public approximately an hour before publication.

There is no reason to believe any officials within the Welsh Government had unauthorised access prior to this.

Immediately after the incident, the Chief Statistician reminded the Minister’s office and communications colleagues that statistics cannot be shared prior to publication.

Other steps to be taken in future:

  • Unpublished data in media briefings will be clearly marked.
  • No interviews related to the topic covered by the statistics are taken ahead of the statistics being published.