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System Watch

Data Support and Monitoring

NHS National Services Scotland ISD Scotland & NHS National Services Scotland

System Watch

System Watch is a tool used by NHS Boards and hospitals to monitor and predict numbers of emergency and elective admissions and the number of beds occupied at a national, NHS Board and hospital level. It has been developed to assist with service planning within NHS Scotland. Over the winter months the Scottish Government are provided with information from System Watch to monitor activity across NHS Scotland. This is particularly valuable at this time of year when the weather and public holidays can affect demand on the health service.

Data is received weekly from NHS boards, Health Protection Scotland (HPS), Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS), NHS 24 and National Records of Scotland (NRS). Predictions are available one to three weeks ahead and are based on seasonal and weekly variation, current emergency admission activity and flu rates. Information is available at national, NHS board and hospital levels.

Data Processing

This is a weekly process, and involves the processing of files received from Health Boards, HPS, SAS NHS24 and NRS. These are:

  • Health Boards - All admissions
  • HPS - Flu rates
  • SAS - Ambulance Call Outs
  • NHS24 - Number of episodes
  • NRS - Deaths File

Health Boards submit files (covering the previous three weeks) via SWIFT each week and these are automatically receipted into the secure Business Intelligence IT holding area. The files are automatically processed and validated against the hospital file specification and Pass or failed validation emails are returned to the board. A copy of each validation email is also sent to the system watch mailbox for monitoring purposes.

SAS and NRS also use SWIFT to submit files but these are not put through a validation check. HPS and NHS24 email their submissions to System Watch and the files are picked up by the analysis team.

Submitted Health Board files which pass validation are then automatically processed and the new data is added to existing 'Stay' files for each Health Board. SAS and NRS files are also automatically processed with the data added to existing files. The new data from HPS and NHS24 files are manually added to existing files.

Data Quality

The updated files are checked to ensure new data is in line with what is expected each week. Large discrepancies will be noted and queried with the supplier.

Further data quality checks are run on each Health Board file. These checks look at completeness of the eight new data items introduced with the upgrade to Enhanced RAPID System Watch. These new data items are validated along with the rest of the file but discrepancies do not cause the file to fail validation but instead produce error reports. These error reports are available to Health Boards via the System Watch Error Reporting Universe within Business Objects.

Data Monitoring and Support

The Data Support & Monitoring Team:

  • Work with Health Boards to resolve any submission issues
  • Work with the Business Intelligence Team to resolve any IT issues
  • Are a first point of contact for any queries on System Watch data
  • Provide access to the System Watch website for authorised NHS users
  • Liase between Health Boards and IT to provide access to submit System Watch files via SWIFT
  • Work with the System Watch analysis team to be updated on any forthcoming changes to variables within System Watch, and to understand how any changes will impact on programs and file processing.
  • Meet with the System watch analysts every fortnight to provide an update on any issues highlighted during processing, how they were resolved and any other issues that need to be addressed.


Hugh Cameron

Gordon Wilson

Dougie Ferguson

Links to further information


System Watch has a secure website which is updated weekly. This is available to colleagues within the NHS who require the information. To request access to System Watch, contact


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NHS National Services Scotland,
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Edinburgh EH12 9EB,
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