What is System watch?

Urgent care and emergency services across NHS Scotland are subject to seasonal variation and other sources of variation in demand. This demand increases particularly during the winter period.

System Watch is a restricted access tool that provides access to timely management information. It aims to help professional users:

  • monitor and predict emergency activity in hospitals
  • access supporting information gathered from sources across the NHS

Where does data come from?

Daily or weekly data comes from:

  • NHS Boards (emergency admissions to hospital, A&E services, primary care out of hours services)
  • Public Health Scotland (respiratory surveillance)
  • Scottish Ambulance Service
  • NHS 24
  • National Records of Scotland (deaths)

Predictions of hospital admissions and occupied bed days are available one to six weeks ahead and are based on:

  • seasonal and weekly variation – including weekend and public holidays
  • current emergency admission activity

How can you view data?

Information is available at the following levels:

  • national
  • NHS board
  • Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP)
  • hospital

Not all levels are available for all data sources.

Dashboard access

The System Watch dashboards are available for approved colleagues in

  • NHS boards
  • Health and Social Care Partnerships
  • Scottish Government

Apply for access to the System Watch dashboards through the User Access System.

Rapid Preliminary Inpatient Data (RAPID) datamart

RAPID is currently submitted to Public Health Scotland once a week by NHS boards.

It contains patient-identifiable data on admissions to hospital up to midnight on Sunday of each week, and is based the format of the SMR01 acute hospital activity dataset.

However, unlike SMR01, RAPID does not contain data on admissions to all specialties. It is also a provisional dataset, with minimal validation, and therefore there are some data quality issues. For example, the date of discharge is not mandatory, and due to the timeliness of submission and frequency only around 10% of records have clinical coding applied.

RAPID is routinely updated and therefore the information is subject to change as hospital records are updated.

Professional NHS users can apply for access to the RAPID data mart through the User Access System.


For further information, or to get involved in the development of the dashboard, email phs.systemwatch@phs.scot

Last updated: 10 February 2023
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