Making Community Rehabilitation Data Count

This report explores the current practice of data collection and use in community rehabilitation (CR), and insight into how we can improve this

Acute, specialised and community rehabilitation (CR) services are historically under-resourced and over-subscribed. The Community Rehabilitation Alliance (CRA) brings together organisations across England to improve access to high quality, person-centred rehabilitation. Rehabilitation service data and analysis is critical in the delivery of high quality community rehabilitation.

Key findings

  1. Community rehabilitation organisations want service level data for multiple purposes including clinical delivery, research, quality improvement, benchmarking, showcasing best practice, making business cases and workforce planning.
  2. It is often not possible to know how effective CR services are because data is incomplete
  3. Data is collected, analysed and stored inconsistently
  4. Current data collection and submission processes are inefficient
  5. Many community rehabilitation organisations, services and clinicians do not routinely receive analysis on data collected
  6. There is broad agreement regarding items for inclusion in an 'ideal core dataset' for community rehabilitation
  7. There is widespread desire to improve CR data content, collection and use


For NHS England and NHS Digital

A community rehabilitation database must be simple to use, safe, efficient and hosted centrally. Such a database should be co-designed with stakeholders to reduce data entry duplication and foster data sharing. This, in turn, could help map service need and outcomes, support audit, service evaluation and research and improve integration of community services (including partnership working between acute, specialised rehabilitation, long-term and social care)

NHS England and NHS Digital have a key role in supporting, funding and delivering a community rehabilitation central database including associated hardware and software. Without coordinated support, a national data collection system is unrealistic and indeed might be detrimental to service delivery given the unsupported clinical and managerial time costs required.

For NHS England, integrated care boards, place boards, rehabilitation leaders and clinicians

There is an important need to support frontline clinicians and leaders through training, involvement and feedback about data uses, benefits and analysis of findings. This is necessary to ensure data capture and upload include relevant fields, is valued, valuable and prioritised at an individual and system level.

Data collection should reflect the 2022 Community Rehabilitation Alliance Best Practice Standards and be part of the solution to tackle health inequity.

Appropriate involvement of other sectors outside the NHS is essential to reflect the breadth of community rehabilitation services.

How the report was developed

This report was produced by the Community Rehabilitation Alliance (CRA) data and evidence task and finish group. The group aimed to map current data, to identify data needs and explore what types of data could be included in an ‘ideal’ core dataset for community rehabilitation.

It was developed by a multi-sector, multi-professional group of volunteers invested in the improvement of community rehabilitation data and it involved two online surveys and a focus group.

Next steps

The CRA data and evidence task and finish group will now move its focus to working with NHS England and NHS Digital to support their work to improve the quality and quantity of CR data.

They will also start working with stakeholders in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales to better understand and improve the CR data landscape all across the UK.

If you have any questions about the report or the next steps then please contact Community