Better Data: Making the third sector business case for health improvement


In the current financial climate the need for third sector organisations to be able to demonstrate their worth to commissioners and funders has never been greater.

This often represents a significant challenge for third sector organisations operating at the forefront of health and wellbeing. The ability of organisations to evidence need, impact and service quality has increasingly become a key factor affecting organisational sustainability.

For time-pressured staff members, responsibly for the development of services to promote health and wellbeing, it can be difficult to know where to access relevant data sets necessary to develop credible business cases to sustain projects.

The situation is further complicated by a mainstream healthcare system and third sector health care services which often struggle to relate to each other. These difficulties are often manifested through the different language, culture and approach of commissioners compared with providers as illustrated in the Regional Voices report Comparing Apples with Oranges- How to make better use of voluntary and community sector evidence to improve health outcomes (NHS Confederation, Regional Voices and LGA, published August 2014)

The difficulties are particularly apparent when it comes to the use of data to develop service provision and present new approaches to preventative, holistic service provision designed to support health improvement.

In recognition of these challenges One East Midlands, part of Regional Voices a member of the Health and Care Voluntary Sector Partnership  Public Health England and ConnectMore Solutions have been working collaboratively on a project to support third sector organisations use ‘open or free’ data sources effectively to support business case development.

The project operatives under the banner of ‘Better Data: Making the third sector business case for health improvement in the East Midlands’ and has been designed to support the development of the wider integration and transformation agenda across health and social care.


Previous events

‘Better data: Understanding open health data and intelligence to make the business case for your work’ events took place in Market Harborough on Thursday 1 May and Derby on Friday 8 May 2014. The events were a unique opportunity for small and medium sized VCS organisations involved in delivery of health improvement / public health services to build expertise in the use of data to support their work and influence.  Attendees heard expert input from colleagues in Public Health England, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and a local authority about the wealth of data and evidence that is available; to enhance understanding of the relationship between intelligence, data, evidence and evaluation. Further information, downloadable presentations and resources are available from this event.


‘Better Data: Applying public health data to build the business case for your service’ took place on Thursday 19 March in Derby. This event built on the success of the previous Better Data events delivered last year and was designed to support third sector organisations to access a range of free and readily available public health data sources to build business cases for the provision of community based health and wellbeing services. The event include contributions from speakers representing Public Health England, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Local Authorities and the Third Sector. Further information, downloadable presentations and resources are available from this event.


In July 2014, One East Midlands and Public Health England have published a project review of Better Data: making the third sector business case for health improvement. Prepared by Richard Hazledine, Project Manager, ConnectMore Solutions, and Sarah Hassell, Health Improvement Lead, Public Health England East Midlands.

Richard Hazledine produced a follow on briefing Better Data: Making the third sector business case for health improvement: August 2014   on the available tools and resources, to help organisations evidence need, impact and service quality.

Better Data Phase 2 Report
This report summarises the work undertaken in the project in 2015.

Better Data: An introduction to using publically available health & wellbeing data and intelligence in business and service development in third sector organisations (May 2016)
This guide describes why and how publically available data and intelligence should be used in business and service development.

Better Data Case Study (May 2016)
A case study describing how some of these tools have been used by Derventio Housing Trust.