The government is consulting on proposals to discontinue up to 25% of all current data returns across the NHS, which it estimates would save the Service around £10 million.

Reducing red tape by cutting unnecessary data collections will release administrative and clerical resources to better support front-line patient care, say Ministers, who have begun a 12-week consultation on the proposals to streamline data collections across health and social care, running from August 30 to November 22.

Over 300 separate data collections commissioned by the Department of Health and its arms-length bodies have been assessed as to how they impact on and improve patient and clinical care. Through the consultation, patient groups, research organisations, academic institutions and NHS trusts are being asked to provide their views on the plans.

"Meaningful information is the lifeblood of the NHS," said Public Health Minister Anne Milton. "The data we collect must be of real value to help us improve patient outcomes, patient choice and clinical decisions. We know that some of the data that is being gathered is of limited use, taking up valuable staff time and resources."

NHS Information Centre chief executive Tim Straughan added that high-quality, relevant and up-to-date information is essential to enable the NHS to deliver the best possible care for patients, and that the purpose of the review is "to make sure we collect data that can make a real impact in helping to improve care while stopping data returns that are no longer needed and only continue for historical reasons."

"In reaching our recommendations, we looked at more than 300 data returns, covering 12 distinct themes and involving contributions from over 200 people. We believe the result of the review will free local NHS staff from unnecessary administrative burdens while at the same time supporting patient choice and better decision-making within the NHS," he added.

A second phase of the work will be carried out to examine how remaining data returns can be rationalised. The aim is for data to be collected and processed efficiently, and for any burden on information providers to be kept to a minimum, says the government.