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Review of Central Returns

The Review of Central Returns (ROCR) process makes sure that information demands on the NHS are minimised, fit with current national health policies and are carried out in the most efficient way without duplication. It covers the Department of Health and its Arm's Length Bodies (ALBs).


How does the Review Of Central Returns process work?

The full process can take between five to six weeks and may require input from the Information Standards Board (external), the DH External Gateway(external), Monitor (external) and other relevant organisations involved in varying aspects of data collection.

When a proposal has been approved the return is given a unique ROCR licence number and an expiry date (usually one year from approval); this means no data return can be collected beyond its expiry date without a full re-justification. In some cases, ROCR requires a more frequent review if there are doubts about the practicality of the proposal or burden. All ROCR collections from the NHS must carry this number, and collections that do not show this number can be ignored by the service. Sponsors are reminded to seek ROCR approval to re-license collections before the license expires.


How do we define a Review Of Central Returns collection?

"Any regular or one-off, national collection of information from NHS organisations (including GPs and Dentists), commissioned or funded by DH and/or its ALBs."

  • Regular: a consistent, ongoing collection period (e.g., annual, monthly, weekly etc).
  • One-Off: collected only once and never repeated
  • National: either includes all NHS organisations, or all NHS organisations within a sub-set (i.e., all mental health trusts, or 100% of all trusts with an A&E unit would be classed as national)
  • Collection of information: where information is collected and distributed to the centre or requesting body to conform to the information request, either specifically as a result of the data request, or as a by-product of another process (e.g. operational systems, data sets)
  • Commissioned or funded by DH and/or its ALBs: where the information is requested by DH/ALBs in the first instance, or is procured through a third-party for central purposes (i.e. NHS Information Centre, specialist groups)
  • Burden: The estimated amount of time (and the £ cost of that time) placed on the service by the need to collate and return the requested data. This includes aggregation and validation (if required), but not the effort of implementing systems to produce the data originally, or associated costs. If the collection is for local use only then there is no central burden to report to ROCR.

How do we define the data burden?

The burden includes:

  • the collection, collation, validation and input of any data specifically for a data collection
  • only the additional input or upload of any data that is already collected by the service and the validation of that data

and excludes:

  • any data that is already routinely collected (but includes any additional time required for submitting or uploading the data)

What do we consider to be a collection?

  • Data sets and Audits
  • Financial, workforce, activity and other information
  • Mandatory, voluntary or statutory collections
  • Exception reporting
  • Data extracts, electronic, telephone and paper returns
  • Samples on a case-by-case basis

Who should follow the Review Of Central Returns process?

The ROCR process applies to the Department of Health and its Arm's Length Bodies.

We also encourage any other bodies that collect data from the NHS to use the process, such as academic, commercial and other external agencies. This will allow us to fully assess duplication with other existing returns and may help you identify if the information you need has already been collected. There is a  ROCR-lite process for non-DH and non-ALB organisations.