What does this career entail?
A career as a health service statistician can develop under a number of guises - sometimes not always immediately recognisable ones. People with statistical training in the NHS can have many job titles, of which just some are
Clinical Audit / Effectiveness Assistant
Health Intelligence Researcher / Officer
Performance Management Officer
A key part of the job is to work within a multi-disciplinary team. The majority of data available in the health service are a by-product of the clinical information systems used to record what is wrong with the patient and what treatment has been given. These administrative data need to have agreed data standards and definitions, and the statisticians will work with clinicians, medical records and IT system developers to agree these coding standards. It is critical for us to be sure that we are "comparing apples with apples" when we draw conclusions from data! A lot of effort is put into data validation and quality assurance so that users can have confidence in the results. When you realise that these can relate to judgements on clinical performance, you understand how important this task is.
Patient surveys are becoming increasingly used in the health service, and the statistician needs to advise on sampling frames, design of questionnaires, response rates, bias and so on. You are also likely to be involved with clinical drug trials, looking at the efficacy of treatments both within hospitals and in the community at large.
Preparing tables and interpreting information for statistical publications and reports is a large part of the job. These are either published as part of National Statistics or will be used within your organisation for management reports to Boards, or for planning purposes. If you are working in the clinical audit area, then you'll be helping doctors and other clinicians look at the quality of their work and how they can improve.
If you are working in a local or regional body within the health service, you will usually be more heavily involved in planning for services within your area. This will involve more research-type work, and perhaps the organisation and management of large surveys of the local population.