New Requirement for data collection in Acute oncology

17 October 2019

In real terms this means that all AO services will need to collect the revised data from April 1st, 2020. This is likely to have significant implications for AO teams working across England.

For the last few years NHS England’s AO Expert Advisory Group has been working with Public Health England’s National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service to secure the inclusion of some Acute Oncology data items and these have now been approved for use. These data items are driven by clinical practice and will be used to -:

  • Produce a national picture of demand for urgent and unscheduled care for cancer patients
  • Provide a more accurate idea of how many Unknown Primary, Neutropenic Sepsis and Metastatic Spinal Cord Compression patients that present for urgent care
  • Track cohorts of patients who are currently invisible or very hard to identify such as those patients currently living with and beyond cancer and those patients with untreatable metastatic disease
  • Build up a picture of activity volumes for localities and identify areas for service development and improvements that will attract investment from regional and national commissioners.

From research and audit NHSE are aware that many AO teams collect data routinely, but this represents a formalisation of this process. The data collected relates to all patients who are assessed  ‘face to face’ (rather than by phone) and carried out by nursing or medical staff who are contracted members of the local AOS or trained by the AOS to provide appropriate levels of care and decision making on behalf of the AOS.

There are a number of data items which will need to be collected on these patients and these are:

  • Assessment Date: the date of each face to face assessment
  • Organisation Code: the code of the Organisation employing the AOS carrying out the assessment
  • Patient Type: the reason behind the patient’s AO episode e.g. their cancer or treatment has made them acutely unwell
  • Assessment location: the location of the patient when they were assessed, e.g. A&E, OPD etc.
  • Outcome: what was the outcome of each assessment, e.g. was the patient well enough to be discharged from hospital care or did they need to stay in for 24 or more hours?

More detail can be found in the guidance document which is located here and in the AOS advice document which is also available on the UKONS website here


It is important that the collection of this data is carried out effectively and there may be resource implications for doing this in terms of staffing and IT support. In order to try and address these AO teams should ask themselves a number of questions, such as 

  1. Do we need to write a business case or request funding?
  2. Do we need to involve our Application Development or IT team and request changes to our data collection system?
  3. Who needs to be involved in the data collection and submission process?

The answers to these questions will help to develop a plan of action. This is important as the deadline is the end of June 2020 in time for the first upload of data. 

Any queries or questions about the new COSD Acute Oncology data items should be forwarded to Catherine Donnelly (Data Work stream Lead for the AO Expert Advisory Group) at