Government commits to open NHS and courts data

Prime Minister David Cameron has today announced plans to publish key data on the NHS, criminal courts, schools and transport, as part of the government’s open data and transparency agenda.

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Prime Minister David Cameron has today announced plans to publish key data on the NHS, criminal courts, schools and transport, as part of the government’s open data and transparency agenda.

In a letter to the Cabinet, Cameron said that the government was committed to publishing data such as the clinical achievements of individual GP practices, the criminal sentencing by each court, the effectiveness of schools at teaching pupils across a range of subjects and rail service performance.

The information would be in an “open format for use by all”.

“We recognise that transparency and open data can be a powerful tool to help reform public services, foster innovation and empower citizens,” Cameron wrote.

“We also understand that transparency can be a significant driver of economic activity, with open data increasingly enabling the creation of valuable new services and applications.”

The latest letter follows from the prime minister’s first letter on transparency in May last year, when he committed the government to publishing information that would make central government spending more transparent. This included publishing online details such as all new central government ICT contracts, and all new items of central government spending over £25,000.

Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office, said that the open data will force organisations to improve their standards and become more competitive: “Having this data available will help people find the right doctor for their needs or the best teacher for their child and will help frontline professionals compare their performance and effectiveness and improve it.

“Making this kind of information available to all will change the way public services operate in the future. For example, it will give users control of their own records, and it will stimulate innovation and enterprise in the UK economy.”

NHS data that will be published includes complaints data by hospital, to be available by October, and prescribing data by GP practices to be published by December.

Meanwhile, anonymised court sentencing data is due to be published by November, and will include details such as age, gender and ethnicity.