Matthew Kendrick, Senior Manager for Local Data Flows at Arden & GEM, reflects on the rapid development of the COVID-19 Patient Notification System and shares stakeholder feedback as the system closes in response to the NHS incident level step down.
Since the end of June 2023, data on individuals who have died from COVID-19 is no longer collected via the COVID-19 Patient Notification System (CPNS) but instead recorded using the death certification process, in line with other infectious diseases.
When the first iteration of the CPNS went live on 24 March 2020, after just five days of development, nobody could have foreseen that the system would still be going strong over three years later. But the partnerships formed and the dedication harnessed in those early days, created a solid foundation on which to build and maintain a vital source of data and reporting to support COVID response and recovery.
While the CPNS is now dormant, in response to the recent stepping down guidance issued by NHS England, some of the underpinning development principles stay with us and have already been deployed into other systems and registries.
Multidisciplinary working: the CPNS build brought together experience and expertise in system development, user support, data management and reporting from the outset. This MDT approach to collecting, curating and using data continues to be the default for all our projects from system-wide analytics platforms to individual dashboards.
Meeting reporting needs: A series of rapid discovery sessions with key stakeholders, in particular the Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response (EPRR) teams, helped to establish the reporting requirements of NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care. Our data expertise translated these requirements into a data collection process that would safeguard quality and timeliness. Although now inactive, the system infrastructure and functionality remain in place to potentially be utilised in future health emergencies.
Continual user engagement: While comprehensive stakeholder engagement and user acceptance testing was a key part of system launch, it never stopped there. Ongoing engagement with national, regional and local users ensured the system and its support desk were continually reactive to evolving need.
Working directly with trusts: While Arden & GEM’s business intelligence service had long been working directly with providers on local data submission, the CPNS was the first national application to be deployed to every trust in England. By demonstrating the capability and benefits of an NHS-built system for NHS services, we paved the way for the use of the National Immunisation and Vaccination System (NIVS) as the point of care data capture solution for hospital COVID vaccinations. This experience and knowledge continue to inform ongoing NIVS development for a range of vaccination programmes.
The recent ‘stepping down’ guidance issued by Amanda Pritchard, NHS Chief Executive, and David Sloman, NHS Chief Operating Officer, recognises that COVID-19, as well as the wider long-term impact of the pandemic, will continue to be significant for years to come.
It is now the responsibility of all of us working in health and social care intelligence teams to build upon the dramatic progress brought about in the data and analytics landscape for the benefit of all patients.
I would like to thank everyone involved in the CPNS project – from day 1 to day 1,192 – and share some of the recent comments we have received from stakeholders.
“You all stepped up when the country needed you and did a fantastic development in very short time, I am really grateful for your help and support.”
Ming Tang, Chief Data and Analytics Office at NHS England
“It was, and always will be, a genuine highlight and privilege of my career to have worked with the team and to have been able to play a tiny part in such an important endeavour. Tremendous efforts that everyone involved with should be forever proud of. What a service, and what a team.”
Rob Stones, Director of Elective Recovery and Performance at NHS England
“Well done to you all for keeping CPNS going for this long. It’s served such an important purpose in keeping decision makers updated with this important information. Thank you again for all your work on this.”
Ayub Bhayat, Director of Data Services at NHS England
“Thanks for all of your extraordinary efforts in making CPNS what it needed to be at point in time when global health and wellbeing was threatened, and for creating a strong legacy that can be built on. I am really proud of you all.”
Helen Seth, Executive Director of Business Intelligence and Provider Management at Arden & GEM
You can read more about the development of the CPNS here.