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Background Quality Notes


This section of the report aims to provide users with an evidence-based assessment of the quality of the publication outputs. The quality of the outputs is assessed based on the nine European Statistical System (ESS) quality dimensions and principles.

Quality dimensions and principles

The original quality dimensions are relevance, accuracy and reliability, timeliness and punctuality, accessibility and clarity, and coherence and comparability. These are set out in Eurostat Statistical Law. However more recent quality guidance from Eurostat includes some additional quality principles. These additional principles are on output quality trade-offs, user needs and perceptions, performance, cost, respondent burden, and confidentiality, transparency, and security.

In doing so, this meets the NHS Business Services Authority's (NHSBSA's) obligation to comply with the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) Code of Practice for Official Statistics. The Code of Practice is based on three pillars:

  • trustworthiness, which is about having confidence in the people and organisations that produce statistics and data
  • quality, which is about using data and methods that produce assured statistics
  • value, which is about producing statistics that support society’s need for information

Due to the provisional nature of some of the data included in the innovation scorecard, some figures may be revised from publication to publication as issues are uncovered and resolved. Users should always use the figures in the latest publication to ensure they are the most up-to-date figures available.

You can find the full Code of Practice for Statistics on the UKSA website.

Accuracy and reliability

Accuracy and reliability relate to the proximity between an estimate and the unknown true value.

Statistics in this publication are based on data from:

  • English Prescribing Dataset (EPD) published by the NHSBSA
  • Secondary Care Medicines Data (SCMD) supplied by Rx-Info and published by the NHSBSA
  • Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data from NHS England
  • population data from the Office for National Statistics
  • Defined Daily Doses (DDD) from World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Drug Statistics Methodology

Medicines data (EPD and SCMD) from the NHSBSA

The NHSBSA Open Data Portal (ODP) is where medicines data is released to the public.

This includes both the English Prescribing Dataset (EPD) and the Secondary Care Medicines Dataset (SCMD).

Further data quality details are available from the NHSBSA Open Data Portal

Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data from NHS England

HES are compiled from data sent by more than 300 NHS hospitals in England and from some independent sector organisations for activity commissioned by the NHS. NHS England liaises closely with these organisations to encourage the submission of complete and valid data and seeks to minimise inaccuracies. While this brings about improvement over time, some shortcomings remain.

The HES Data Quality (DQ) Notes highlight any specific known issues with the data to be considered when analysing the data. They are designed for HES system users and those requesting extracts. This is a single repository and replaces individual DQ notes published every month and can be found on the HES data quality webpage.

HES data is used to calculate the denominator for reporting at NHS Trust level and the expected number of days of treatment for the direct oral anticoagulants (DOAC) secondary medicine grouping. 

Population data from Office of National Statistics (ONS)

The resident population figures used in this publication are taken from population estimates published by ONS. 

Defined Daily Dose (DDD) data from World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Drug Statistics Methodology

DDD figures are taken from the WHO Collaborating Centre for Drug Statistics Methodology.

DDD is the assumed average maintenance dose per day for a drug used for its main indication in adults. It is an international standard, developed to allow comparisons when studying drug utilisation. The DDD is a unit of measurement and does not necessarily reflect the recommended or Prescribed Daily Dose.

DDDs are available for individual drugs and medicines, and combined products. New and amended DDDs, including those for combined products, are released twice a year and subsequently updated to the ATC/DDD Index. May releases will be included the following January, and December releases will be included in the January a year later. When new or amended DDDs become available for scorecard medicines they are applied historically to the quarters of data included in the publication.

DDD figures, updates and methodology can be found on the WHO Collaborating Centre for Drug Statistics Methodology website.


Relevance is the degree to which the statistical product meets user needs in both coverage and content.

Medicines that meet the inclusion criteria of the Innovation Scorecard are presented at national (England), NHS region, integrated care board (ICB), sub ICB locations, and NHS trust levels, by calendar quarter.

The medicine groupings are available in a separate dashboard on the web platform tool and users can see both the grouped uptake and the values for each medicine within the grouping. Medicines that form part of these medicine groupings will not be included in the individual medicine dashboard.

The web platform tool shows the use of individual medicines and medicine groupings over time by calendar quarter, and at different NHS organisation levels.

Comparability and coherence

Coherence is the degree to which data that is derived from different sources or methods, but refers to the same topic, are similar. Comparability is the degree to which data can be compared over time and domain.

There will be ongoing developments with each Innovation Scorecard publication. Users should always use the figures in the latest publication to ensure they are the most up-to-date figures available. Previous Innovation Scorecard publications can be found on the NHS England NICE Technology Appraisals in the NHS in England Innovation Scorecard webpages.

The prescription services data presented here is different from data presented in the NHSBSA publications based on the Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) system. This is because the PCA database is based on all prescriptions written in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Isle of Man but dispensed in England only and includes prescriptions written by dentists and hospital doctors.

The data reporting units such as Assumed Daily Doses (ADDs), DDDs or mgs in this publication will not match other prescribing data published by the NHSBSA, which are generally reported as items and cost.

Users can misinterpret the data as relating to numbers of patients. Therefore, care should be taken as the data relates to volumes of medicines, not directly to the number of individuals.

Changes to the figures over time need to be interpreted in the context of changes in available medicines and changes in NHS practice. For example, a reduction in items dispensed for a particular medicine may be due to the introduction of alternative medicines, or a change in prescribing behaviour, especially in the length of treatment each item is intended to cover.

Additionally, a change in prescribing practice could also be due to drug safety updates as published by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and its independent advisor the Commission on Human Medicines.

Details of drug safety updates are published online on the website.

Secondary care medicines data (SCMD) is processed pharmacy stock control data in standardised format. The data records monthly quantities issued, which may not reflect the timing and quantity of medicine use. Data is provisional and historical use data can be updated due to processes within trusts' stock control systems. It is possible for the data to show negative use of a medicine where supply made in a previous period has been returned in a subsequent one.

Local level data (regions, ICBs, trusts) will not add up to national data due to unidentified organisations which are included in the national totals but not against local level organisations.

NHS organisations differ widely in the populations they serve. Therefore data at national (England), NHS region, and ICB levels are standardised by the estimated resident populations.

For hospital trusts data the number of finished consultant episode (FCE) days of hospital care for the time period under consideration, taken from the HES data, has been used to standardise the data. The values vary significantly, with more specialist hospitals such as the Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust reporting fewer than 40,000 days of hospital care per year. This is contrast to larger trusts such as Bart’s Health NHS Trust which reports over 700,000 days of hospital care per year.

Trust level data should not be compared with the national, region, or ICB data due to the differing data sources and standardisation methodologies applied.

This scorecard covers some highly specialised medicines so differences in use across organisations are to be expected.

Timeliness and punctuality

Timeliness refers to the time gap between publication and the reference period. Punctuality refers to the gap between planned and actual publication dates.

This report is published twice a year, previously quarterly, and reports on data that is approximately four months in arrears. The publication date is determined by the availability of the data and allows adequate time for the compilation of the report including all other publication outputs. 

New medicines with a positive recommendation on published TAs are made available on the Innovation Scorecard approximately four months in arrears. 

Organisational changes are published in line with the reporting periods of the Innovation Scorecard and are not relative to the publication dates of the releases. This means that an organisational change that takes effect from April 2021 will only be reflected from the October 2021 release of the Innovation Scorecard onwards. Where possible, historic data is updated on the new releases.

New and amended DDDs, including those for combined products, are released twice annually around May and December. The Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) searchable index with DDDs is updated in January. When new or amended DDD figures take effect in the Innovation Scorecard, historical data is updated accordingly for quarters included in the publication.

This publication has been released in line with the pre-announced publication date and is therefore considered to be punctual.

Accessibility and clarity

Accessibility is the ease with which users can access the data, also reflecting the format in which the data are available and the availability of supporting information. Clarity refers to the quality and sufficiency of the metadata, illustrations, and accompanying advice.

This publication uses open data published by the NHSBSA.

The publication may be requested in large print or other formats through the NHSBSA accessibility email at or by phone at 0191 203 5318. These contact details are only for accessibility queries. You can find more information about call charges on the NHSBSA contact webpages.

This report provides a high-level summary of the medicines reported on for the current publication as well as some analysis of utilisation comparing the current 12 months with the previous 12 months.

Also available is a key points infographic, a glossary and guidance chapter, as well as some contextual information where applicable.

Guidance documents on details of the underlying data are provided as resources of the publication.

Data is presented on an interactive web platform tool following an initial release in January 2017. This interactive tool has been developed in response to a user consultation undertaken in early 2016 specifically to enhance user experience in accessing the data. The interactive tool aims to make it easier for commissioners and users to find information on what medicines are available in their region and allow for easier comparison with other areas. 

User feedback is welcomed to inform future developments.

Assessment of user needs and perceptions

This section describes the processes for finding out about users and uses and their views on the Innovation Scorecard publication.

NHS England conducted a user survey of the Innovation Scorecard publication in February 2016 to collect feedback on the content and display of the publication. The results of the survey will be used to ensure the publication remains relevant to users. Some of the developments in response to the feedback received include:

  • key points infographic to summarise the contents of the publication  
  • a web platform tool to enhance user experience in accessing the data
  • refreshed reports with user-friendly commentary and charts
  • guidance documents on the underlying data

The Innovation Scorecard strategic group and technical working group consist of a range of stakeholders whose views have been used to continuously develop this publication.

Performance cost and respondent burden

This section describes the effectiveness, efficiency, and economy of the statistical output.

The publication uses existing administrative sources. The figures used in this publication are collected as part of the process of reimbursing dispensers for drugs supplied and monitoring of medicine use within hospitals. For hospital dispensing data the trusts are not compelled to provide the data and do so voluntarily. HES data is from an existing administrative source.

Information about the administrative sources and their use for statistical purposes can be found on the NHSBSA Official Statistics team's policies and procedures webpage and in the NHS England Statement of Administrative Sources.

Confidentiality, transparency, and security

This section describes the procedures and policy used to ensure sound confidentiality, security, and transparent practices.

The data contained in this publication are official statistics. The code of practice for official statistics is followed throughout this publication, from collecting the data to publishing. Further details can be found in the UKSA code of practice for statistics.

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Assumed Daily Dose (ADD) methodology

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Guidance and glossary 

Pages in this publication

  1. Overview
  2. Background and introduction
  3. Estimates Report
  4. Assumed Daily Dose (ADD) Methodology
  5. Background Quality notes
  6. Guidance and glossary
  7. Guide to the underlying data