Part of the Strategy Unit mission is to improve the use of analysis in decision making. Current use is, to employ a euphemism, variable.
Our mission takes multiple forms:
- We try to exemplify the behaviour we want to see. We work closely with decision makers; we share models and code alongside results.
- Though the Midlands Decision Support Network, we run training programmes for Midlands analysts, recognising that certain skills (around leadership for example) are needed.
- And, increasingly, we work with leaders and decision makers to help them understand the value that good analysis can add.
We also advocate. We make the case for analysts in different forums – and we’ve even gone so far as to incite insurrection…
This is why I appeared in the HSJ to argue that the NHS is squandering its analytical talents. The article [paywall] rehearsed a set of arguments that will be familiar to many: that the NHS has around 10,000 analysts; that they are typically skilled, but not well used; and that the decision maker – analyst relationship is vital and needs attention of the kind it does not currently get.
I also made the case for the Midlands Decision Support Network as a model.
The value of this Network is becoming clearer by the day. Whether through networking analysts, evaluators and evidence reviewers; through providing technical training and development; through working with leaders to improve their decision making; or through helping systems create local Decision Support Units.
It provides a model that addresses the requirements for Integrated Care Systems to be intelligence-driven, capable of experimenting and learning. This is a model that other regions are now interested in replicating. I encourage everyone to visit the website - https://www.midlandsdecisionsupport.nhs.uk/ - to find out more and see why.
The Strategy Unit mission will never be complete. Continuing advances in data science mean that analysts will always be capable of adding more value. But the current gap between what can be done and what is done is vast.
This is a gap we are determined to help close.