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Strengthening our intelligence

English philosopher Sir Francis Bacon once said, “Knowledge is power”.  The more of it we have, the better informed and equipped we are to address any issues and drive improvements. And this too is true for health.  Within Public Health England, much of this knowledge exists within our new and emerging health intelligence networks that specialise in several topic areas and based around England. These are part of a much broader service also delivered by our knowledge and intelligence teams (KITs), which all contribute to the local public health system in support of PHE Centres and local authorities.

It’s essential we’re using the most authoritative knowledge and information available about our health, to make decisions to help deliver the best outcomes.

We have five of these national health intelligence networks, each at different stages of development. These are:

Our health intelligence networks operate across organisations bringing together various holders of information, national charities, NHS partners, researchers and key users of health intelligence. The networks will work with other organisations to help strengthen knowledge translation locally using tools and resources with national expertise.

The first, and most established network is the NCIN, which coordinates the collection, analysis and publication of comparative national statistics on diagnosis, treatment and outcomes for all types of cancer. Since its operation, access to information has significantly improved cancer intelligence.  We know more about patients, where and how they’re diagnosed and when treatments start to best tackle any condition. The focus has to be on both early diagnosis and improved survival/outcomes. It’s critical that we continue to build key links with the major charities to ensure there is a sustained focus on outcomes for users.

We’re continuously being able to view more data to understand health throughout the population, from our patients to health services where we can make better informed decisions through the knowledge we obtain. Intelligence networks are fantastic means to achieve this.

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  1. Comment by Bren posted on

    Hello Brian, a really informative blog and the data is so important. I also think it is important we collect the right data on the right outcomes too. I also wondered when there would be an active url link to the National Mental Health Intelligence Network – est. 2013?

    A really great blog that allowed the reader to get a good first hand understanding.

    Thank you,


    • Replies to Bren>

      Comment by Brian Ferguson posted on

      Thanks for your comment Bren, and interest in this subject. The National Mental Health Intelligence Network is still in development and we hope to provide an online presence in the early summer. We’ll post news about this network on the PHE website ( when it’s available.