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Data and Intelligence in the Public Health System

Position statements · Public health workforce | September 26, 2023

Why we have written this paper

It is important that local authorities (LAs) and DsPH have access to high quality public health knowledge and intelligence in order to carry out their statutory responsibilities effectively.

This includes having access to robust evidence and information to support:

  • local health surveillance
  • needs assessments
  • quality benchmarking
  • comparing outcomes
  • developing plans
  • evaluating impact

The urgency of data sharing during the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated that it is possible to collect and share effective data both rapidly and securely. These data flows – between organisations, national to local and local to national – must be strengthened and hardwired more widely into the public health system. Compartmentalising data access and knowledge weakens the collective effort and is counterproductive to achieving the core aims of public health and a whole system approach.

Our recommendations

  • DsPH should have direct access to all data relating to the health of their local population by default – including Patient Identifiable Data (PID).


  • DsPH should be given a right to certain data in order for them to fulfil statutory responsibilities. This means parity between LAs and the NHS in terms of data access, sharing and integration.


  • DsPH should have sufficient resources to manage data, such as data warehouses to store and link data locally, and local public health analysts to analyse this data.


  • There should be robust and complete data and intelligence flow across organisational boundaries in a timely manner, including the NHS, UKHSA, and OHID.


  • Local Knowledge and Intelligence Teams (LKITs) should continue to support LAs.


  • The Public Health England (PHE) Fingertips tool – which includes the highly valued Public Health Outcomes Framework (PHOF) should be maintained and strengthened.
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