13 Mar 2020

In November last year the BDA  attended the NHS Benchmarking Network event which was of great interest and helps us to identify and prioritise our areas of work. The report was published in late February (member only), and we would like to share a few highlights that align with what we are currently working on for you.

What is NHS Benchmarking?

Benchmarking where data is pulled nationally from all NHS Trusts that are registered every two years. The data covers lots of aspects including patient activity, staffing levels and patient outcomes. Benchmarking then allows for comparison. In this case comparisons are made between the different AHP groups. The data we will be commenting on will be from the Acute Therapies Benchmarking report for 2019.

Investment needed

First and foremost, it is clear we need more investment in dietetics. When benchmarked against our AHP peers it was clear that dietetics received far less investment than both physiotherapy and occupational therapy. This combined with the fact waiting times for dietitians were higher than all other AHPs, highlights the need for investment! This supports the work we do across all four countries to raise the profile of dietitians, campaigning for the government to take action to invest in dietetics.

We were excited to hear that dietitians are now written into the GP contract. More dietitians in primary care would help take pressure off acute services and support reducing outpatient waiting times. In line with the NHS Long Term Plan more dietitians in primary care would also help keep people out of hospital, further taking pressure off of acute services.

The report also highlights the importance of technology in healthcare and using fully integrated digital systems to improve the share of patient information across healthcare professionals. Development of digital literacy in AHPs was also highlighted as important. We are involved in work supporting the AHP digital agenda. You can read more about this here.

Collecting evidence

The table below answers the question “Does your service collect clinical outcomes?” This highlights the need for dietitians to up their game when it comes to outcome data capture. The BDA has recently launched an outcome framework document to support you in developing and capturing clinical outcomes. We are now working to integrate this work into a digital template which can be used within your computer systems should you choose to work with IT on this. Outcomes is quite simply collecting data to demonstrate your effectiveness as dietitians. We need outcome data to demonstrate our effectiveness, and therefore justify the need for more dietitians. Outcome data helps our sales pitch.

Discipline

2017

2019

Physiotherapy

89%

92%

Occupational therapy

82%

88%

Dietetics

51%

59%

Speech & language therapy

88%

93%

(We suspect many more dietitians may be collecting outcomes and this may not paint the full picture)

Finally, we need to remember that the data we get out of the NHS Benchmarking is only as good as the data we put in.  We would recommend you find out if your trust reports data to benchmarking. If it does, are you involved? Do you see this data before it is submitted? Do you get a chance to check that it is correct? Take control and own your data!

BDA Blogs

Author

Chloe Adams

Policy Officer for Professional Practice, British Dietetic Association