Number crunching: stress free ERIC reporting

For many who work in NHS estates management, spring means one thing – ERIC data. You’ve finally got your financial year end completed, then there’s barely time to draw breath before plunging into yet more facts and figures for your ERIC return.

ERIC – or Estates Returns Information Collection – data is information about everything to do with the NHS’s estate. Buildings, maintenance, facilities management and utilities are all covered, with each NHS Trust needing to collect, compile, check and report on hundreds of individual pieces on information from across their estate.

Whilst it’s important to collect this information to give you a view of what’s happening across your estate, it can be difficult to find time away from your day-to-day priorities to ensure that data is collected accurately, effectively, and is then interpreted in a way that will benefit the trust.

We can help if you don’t have resource or capacity in your team to dedicate to ERIC data. Community Ventures have expert estates professionals who can manage your ERIC data collection and collation.

We’ll oversee and coordinate with your service leads and workstreams and verify that data received is accurate and complies with ERIC definitions, including incorporating any amendments introduced by NHS England, before inputting it into the ERIC system.

If your data is substantially different from previous years, you’ll need to explain why. We’ll help you identify the reasons and include an explanation on your ERIC return.

We recently helped an NHS Trust in the North East put together their ERIC return, helping them find explanations for over 30 significant variances from the previous year – for example, gas costs had gone up markedly, but this was due to rising utility costs, and gas usage had actually decreased. We also reported on their cost per square metre, and hard and soft facilities management costs.

Once your ERIC data is submitted, that’s not the end of the story. ERIC data can be an invaluable source of information that can help you inform and direct decisions on your estate, but it can’t help you if you haven’t got the time and resources to dedicate to finding trends and insights in the data.

We can conduct a thorough review of the data, summarising it for you and identifying issues which are likely to create validation issues due to them being outlier areas. We can also provide advice to Trust boards, providing an analysis report showing how your Trust is performing compared to peers.

We can also look at how you’re doing against previous years, highlighting discrepancies and areas where you could potentially save money.

We recently worked with another NHS Trust in England, taking a deep dive into their ERIC data and finding how effectively the Trust was using space, benchmarked against similarly sized trusts. This gave them some quick fixes – including flagging up that the way they were reporting some data was distorting the results to make them look less effective. We also found ways they could make efficiencies, reducing their overall estates spend, and enabling them to redirect this funding to provide better services for their patients. See more about our work with ERIC data.