Referrals by treatment function and month
- High level information
- Summary information
- Statistical quality information
- Open Data
TitleReferrals (April 2012 onwards)
Last update1 February 2017
Next update1 March 2017
Publishing organisationWelsh Government
Source 1Outpatient Referral Dataset, NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS)
Lowest level of geographical disaggregationLocal health boards
Languages coveredEnglish and Welsh
General descriptionResubmissions of the Referrals data in the Outpatient Referrals Dataset (OPR DS) occur each month. As a result, data in the release and Stats Wales is revised to reflect this. Please see the latest release for the impact of the revisions.
GP referrals cover both referrals from General Medical Practitioners and General Dental Practitioners.
Change of data source for GP referrals data for April 2012 data onwards:
For April 2012 data onwards, the data source for GP referrals for first outpatient appointments in this release has changed from the aggregate GP referrals data collection to the OPR DS.
The monthly aggregate GP Referrals data collection was historically used to assess trends at LHB and specialty level of GP referrals to first outpatient appointments. This data source was published by the Welsh Government as the definitive source of GP referrals data from June 2006 until July 2012.The Outpatient Referrals Dataset (OPR DS) was approved in May 2007 by the Welsh Information Standards Board (WISB), full implementation was completed by December 2007 and formal collection and reporting began mid 2008. This is a patient-level data set that allows more detailed analysis.
Following detailed data quality assessments and reviews of the data, the Welsh Government moved to using the OPR DS as the source of the official statistics for April 2012 data onwards and has ceased the monthly aggregate GP Referrals data collection. The reasons for this were to:
- Have just one definitive source of data for GP referrals;
- Remove the burden on data providers of supplying data for two similar data sets;
- Remove the confusion for analysts and users which exists by having two similar data sets for GP referrals information, containing different data in some cases; and
- Allow more granularity for research and data mining (the OPR DS provides patient level data, whereas the aggregate GP referrals data collection provides high level, summary data).
For April 2012 data onwards, “treatment function code” has been used to determine into which specialty the referral is made, changing from "main specialty (of consultant)". Treatment function code is the specialty under which a patient is currently being treated or is waiting to be treated, irrespective of the specialty of the consultant, whereas main specialty (of consultant) is the specialty of the consultant under which the patient will be/is currently being treated. The reasons for using treatment function code are as follows:
It provides an improved measure of demand on the service. Referral figures have been reported historically using ‘Main Specialty (of Consultant)’ to identify the consultant care for which the patient is awaiting treatment. Using treatment function code enables reporting of referrals by the speciality to which the patients have been referred rather than by the speciality to which the consultant is registered.
Due to the changing management of referrals in secondary care (for example, the use of pooled specialty waiting lists and referrals now often being referred directly to a specialty or service rather than a named individual) using main specialty is no longer appropriate, as the data should be more standardised. Using treatment function code will bring this data set in line with national standards, and it should introduce more coherence between data sets (i.e. specialty figures for referral to treatment times are also reported using treatment function code).
From April 2016, there has been a change in the treatment function codes submitted by the local health boards; this includes the cessation of the nursing treatment function. Whilst the other changes are likely to result in movements between different codes, the nursing treatment function affects Cwm Taf University LHB in particular as it was the only health board to submit a large number of referrals for that code (around 2,000 in March 2016, the last month when data was submitted).
Information on non-GP referrals are included in this table. For information on the non-GP referrals please see this statistical article:
Data collection and calculationPlease find this information in the related statistical release, as per the given weblink.
Frequency of publicationMonthly
Data reference periodsApril 2012 onwards
Users, uses and contextPlease find this information in the related statistical release, as per the given weblink.
Revisions informationFrom December 2015 our revisions policy is that each month we revise data for the previous 12 months (i.e. each month we publish 13 months of data). At the end of every financial year, when the largest historical revisions are received, we revise figures back to April 2012 (i.e. when we publish March figures each year we revise figures back to April 2012). Prior to December 2015, we revised data back to April 2012 every month.
Betsi Cadwaldr Health Board have been unable to submit data for part of the health board for November and December 2016, due to moving to the national Welsh Patient Administration System (WPAS). NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS) are working with the health board to resolve the issue.
Aneurin Bevan University Health Board have now submitted data for November 2016.
Prior to April 2016, referrals to a haematology clinician were incorrectly excluded from the figures reported by Aneurin Bevan. These referrals are included from April 2016 onwards, resulting in an increase in the number of referrals to this specialty. Aneurin Bevan are hoping to resubmit the data prior to April 2016, which will include these referrals, when the figures are revised back to April 2012.
Statistical qualityPlease find this information in the related statistical release, as per the given weblink.
WeblinksThe most recent statistical release can be found on the following weblink:
On the 24th February 2015 we published a statistical article, which detailed the impact on the data of including other sources of referrals, and identified patterns and trends of non-GP sources of referral.