NHS Digital Data Release Register - reformatted

NHS National Services Scotland projects

162 data files in total were disseminated unsafely (information about files used safely is missing for TRE/"system access" projects).

Monthly HES data request - NHS National Services Scotland — DARS-NIC-391119-T4J3R

Type of data: information not disclosed for TRE projects

Opt outs honoured: No - data flow is not identifiable, Anonymised - ICO Code Compliant, No

Legal basis: Health and Social Care Act 2012, Health and Social Care Act 2012 – s261(1) and s261(2)(b)(ii), Health and Social Care Act 2012 – s261(1) and s261(2)(b)(ii), Health and Social Care Act 2012 – s261(2)(b)(ii)

Purposes: No (Agency/Public Body)

Sensitive: Non Sensitive, and Non-Sensitive

When:DSA runs 2017-08-19 — 2020-08-18 2017.06 — 2020.07.

Access method: Ongoing


Sublicensing allowed: No


  1. Hospital Episode Statistics Accident and Emergency
  2. Hospital Episode Statistics Admitted Patient Care
  3. Hospital Episode Statistics Outpatients
  4. Hospital Episode Statistics Accident and Emergency (HES A and E)
  5. Hospital Episode Statistics Admitted Patient Care (HES APC)
  6. Hospital Episode Statistics Outpatients (HES OP)


The National Services Scotland (NSS) Discovery service is an N3 / SWAN based information system providing statistical and comparative benchmarking data updated on a monthly cycle to help Scottish NHS Territorial health boards review, monitor and plan services to support and meet their quality improvement ambitions.

The system provides up to 4yrs of historical data to enable trend analysis and provides data in the system up until the end of the previous calendar month.

The system highlights potential unwarranted variation by showing comparisons for a range of indicators between the Scottish Health Boards and locations within their respective Boards (hospitals). For each of the locations within Discovery an agreed set of peers have been defined to facilitate effective peer comparisons and benchmarking.

The addition of the monthly aggregated pseudonymised HES data allows NHS National Services Scotland to provide appropriate peer comparisons at trust, hospital and specialty level for our larger Health board locations and/or where they have insufficient hospital peer comparators from within Scotland itself (e.g. national elective centres may not have enough specialty peers to compare against).

This information enables Scottish health organisations to consider if there is room for further improvement or efficiencies which can ultimately lead to the delivery of better health outcomes for NHS patients.

Yielded Benefits:

Expected Benefits:

Discovery has a broad user base which extends across the following staff groups within NHS Scotland, Managers, Planners, Analysts, Clinicians, Accountants and Improvement Advisors. They will use the comparative and benchmarking information to underpin service planning and delivery.

Discovery provides an Atlas of variation for NHS Boards to quickly assess and understand where there are opportunities to identify and realise improvement prospects e.g.:

NHS Boards can use NSS Discovery to identify and learn from better performing peers about how they run their service and to consider if adopting these approaches could improve patient outcomes, drive efficiencies and reduce harm. The Discovery Service has worked with service users to identify these opportunities in 2016-17 and are assisting the boards to make transformational change within their organisations.

For some NHS Boards benchmarking information from Scottish peers is insufficient and they particularly value the ability to compare with English peers. This allows them to make more appropriate comparisons, which will support better decision making.


Continued inclusion (the HES data being requested as part of this application is already in use with NSS Discovery - Benchmarking Visualisation service) as peer comparators for indicators used for benchmarking and monitoring by NHS Scotland health boards.

HES data is currently, and will continue to be, included in interactive tableau visualisations, tables and charts, that are updated on a monthly basis with the latest available data. The data is shown at aggregate level, with small numbers suppressed, for a number of key indicators that are aligned to the Institute of Medicine’s six dimensions of quality.

These outputs are only accessible by approved users within NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government via a secure log in.

The Wrap Around Service that supports NSS Discovery provides NHS Boards, when requested, with additional more detailed ad hoc analysis for specific comparators, still at an aggregate level. These ad hoc requests would be produced as management information only in the form of excel tables/charts/presentations etc.

All outputs will contain only data that is aggregated with small numbers suppressed in line with the HES Analysis Guide.


Data is provided from various sources including local NHS Boards, Health & Social Care (H&SC) and Home Countries data via primarily NHS Digital. Data is transferred using multiple secure file transfer options including SFTP, and the Secure File Transfer service.

The NHS Digital HES Data provided, arrives in a Pseudonymised format. Cuts of these extracts are used to create appropriate peers for Scottish NHS Boards and Hospitals and show it on a monthly basis aggregated at trust, location and specialty levels (small numbers are suppressed in line with the HES Analysis guide).

The HES data extracts are shown alongside the Scottish Morbidity Record (SMR) data and the Welsh data, trusts and locations and are shown within peer groups to be used by the NHS Scotland Boards in benchmarking comparisons. Trend analysis across all time points (April 2013 onwards) is available.

NSS Discovery is an NHS Scotland Management System which can only be accessed by approved users within NHS Scotland health boards and the Scottish Government via a secure log in.

The Discovery service is funded by the NHS Scotland Territorial Health Boards directly to NSS-ISD with money top sliced from the Scottish Government.

Discovery benchmarking Indicators (outputs) are agreed nationally and are updated to agreed guidelines via appropriate national governance groups.

The Discovery tool is complemented with a ‘wrap-around service’ (WAS) that provides support to Discovery subscribers including bespoke analysis and reports. The WAS outputs may include figures from English and Welsh peers as defined by the Boards themselves to enhance their benchmarking; for the same or similar indicators, and at the same granularity (small numbers suppressed) as available in the Discovery tool.

No data from Discovery will be publicly available and data contained within it will not be used for sales and marketing purposes.

Only substantive employees of National Services Scotland can access the record-level data. Third parties will only have access to data that is aggregated (with small numbers suppressed in line with the HES Analysis Guide).