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Data set glossary

A generic guide to abbreviations across all data sets.  

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This is the reference number assigned by the DCB for a release of an Information Standard. For example 30/2018 is MHSDS v4.0


A method applied to patient identifiable data items to protect the identity of individuals. Under anonymisation, the relevant data items are either randomly encrypted or completely removed. Anonymised data cannot be linked with other data sets, nor can it be reversed to expose the identity of an individual. Anonymisation is different from pseudonymisation.

Assuring transformation

Assuring transformation data  is information about people with a learning disability, autism or both who are in hospital. 


Bureau Service Portal (BSP)

NHS Digital hosted the BSP, a facility that allowed centralised collection and processing of NHS data. This facility was replaced by the SDCS Cloud from April 2019.


Care Quality Commission (CQC)

The CQC monitor, inspect and regulate health and social care services. 

Child Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

CAMHS are the NHS services that assesses and treat young people with emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties.  CAMHS support covers depression, problems with food, self-harm, abuse, violence or anger, bipolar, schizophrenia and anxiety. 

Clinical Terms Version 3 (CTV3)

A clinical coding language used for diagnosis and treatment, which has now been deprecated and largely replaced by SNOMED CT.

Commissioning Data Sets (CDS)

The CDS are the basic structure used for the submission of secondary care data to the Secondary Uses Service and is designed to be capable of individually conveying many different Commissioning Data Set structures encompassing accident and emergency attendances, out-patient attendances, future attendances, admitted patient care and elective admission list data. CDS forms the basis of data on activity carried out by NHS trusts reported centrally for monitoring, commissioning and payment purposes.

Community Services Data Set (CSDS)

The Community Services Data Set is an information standard, approved by the governing standards body, which defines a patient level data set for all patients in receipt of publicly funded Community Services. The data set allows community service providers and commissioners to view local and national information from community services, to improve patient care.

Conformance date

The date when services and IT systems must conform to standards and meet the specification as set out in the mandate and guidance. This can usually be read as when the first submission window closes for this new version.

Continuing Healthcare (CHC)

A package of ongoing care that is arranged and funded solely by the NHS where the individual has been assessed and found to have a ‘primary health need’ as set out in the National Framework for NHS Continuing Healthcare and NHS-funded Nursing.


Data Access Environment (DAE)

DAE is the secure way users can remotely access better linked information and ensures the right person, with the right permissions, gets the right data, in accordance with their Data Sharing Agreement.

Data Access Request Service (DARS)

DARS is an NHS Digital service which offers clinicians, researchers and commissioners the data required to help improve NHS services.

Organisations and individuals wanting to use certain kinds of data need to show they meet strict data governance standards by completing our DARS application process. 

The DARS team makes sure we only supply sensitive patient level data to organisations that look after it according to information governance requirements, and use it to improve health and care services.

Data Alliance Partnership Board (DAPB)

Data Alliance Partnership Board which replaces the DCB.

Data Coordination Board (DCB)

The DCB has delegated responsibility for approving information standards for the health and social care system in England. The DCB membership is drawn from a range of organisations operating within health and social care.

Data group

A collection of data items that describe a distinct event or episode. This can also be referred to as a table of data.

Data item

A single component of a data set that holds one type of information and relates to a specific record.

Data Landing Portal

The secure data collection system chosen to facilitate the submission of data to NHS Digital, as specified within the technical guidance.

Data Processing Service (DPS)

A cloud based service for managing data services.

Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA)

A DPIA can apply to the process to help you identify and minimise the data protection risks of a project and also the document created as a result from the process.

Data Services for Commissioners Regional Offices (DSCRO)

A DSCRO work with data from GP practices and NHS hospital trusts in regional processing centres. Staff follow strict rules on accessing, analysing and processing data. The powers granted to the organisation by the Health and Social Care Act 2012 which means that staff are operating within an approved legal framework.

Data Set Development Service (DSDS)

The team within NHS Digital responsible for developing a number of national data sets.

Data set specification

The data set specification fully defines each data item within the data set. This document splits the data set into a number of groups (tables), each containing data items and values.

Data sharing agreement

A data sharing agreement between the parties sharing and receiving data is a document which sets out the purpose of the data sharing, covers what is to happen to the data at each stage, sets standards and helps all the parties to be clear about their respective roles.

Data Standards Assurance Service (DSAS)

DSAS supports the Data Coordination Board (DCB) in providing detailed assurance and appraisal of proposals for Information Standards, Collections and Extractions (ISCE) requiring publication under the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

Delayed Transfer of Care (DToC)

A DToC occurs when a patient is ready for discharge from acute or non-acute care and is still occupying a bed. 


A data item populated at the central data repository as part of post-deadline processing. The derived data item is based on the manipulation of the ‘source’ data items using mathematical, logical or other types of transformation process, or by using source data to derive further data from national look-up tables.


Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP)

EIP services work with patients that experience their first episode of psychosis.

Electronic Patient Records (EPR)

An electronic health record, or electronic medical record, is the systematised collection of patient and population health information in a digital format. These records can be shared across different health care settings.

Expert Reference Group (ERG)

The NHS Digital data set expert reference groups are set up for each specific data set and are made up of care provider, system supplier and NHS Digital representatives.. One of their main focuses is on contributing to the understanding of requirements and the development of viable solutions.


Fair Processing Notice (FPN)

An FPN is a written statement that individuals are given when information is collected about them. As a minimum, a privacy notice should tell people who we are, what we are going to do with their information and who it will be shared with.


General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The GDPR 2016/679 is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union and the European Economic Area. It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU and EEA areas. The Data Protection Act 2018 is the UK’s implementation of the GDPR.


Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT)

IAPT services provide evidence-based psychological therapies to people with anxiety disorders and depression.

Information standard

An information standard as specified within the Health and Social Care Act 2012 is a document containing standards in relation to the processing and use of information. An information standard specifies rules for the processing, management and sharing of information and specifies what process is needed, the ‘quality’ required in the form of conformance criteria and how it can be implemented across health and social care in England.

Information Standards Notice (ISN)

An ISN is a notice of an Information Standard approved by the DCB. When a health and social care organisation in England receives an ISN, they will ensure that they and their contractors comply with the standard in a reasonable time (such time defined within the ISN).

Intermediate database (IDB)

The IDB is a Microsoft Access database which is used to submit data to the data landing platform.

International Classifications of Disease, revision 10 (ICD-10)

ICD-10 is the 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, a medical classification list by the World Health Organisation.


Maternity Services Data Set (MSDS)

The MSDS is a patient-level data set that captures information about activity carried out by Maternity Services relating to a mother and baby(s), from the point of the first booking appointment until mother and baby(s) are discharged from maternity services.

Mental Health Care Cluster (MHCC)

A series of rating scales assigned to a patient to help classify their mental health diagnosis. 

Mental Health Clustering Tool (MHCT)

The MHCT is a type of clustering tool for patients receiving Mental Health care. The MHCT is a needs assessment tool designed to rate the care needs of a patient, based upon a series of rating scales.

Mental Health Services Data Set (MHSDS)

The MHSDS contains record-level data about the care of children, young people and adults who are in contact with mental health, learning disabilities or autism spectrum disorder services.


National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) provides national guidance and advice to improve health and social care. 


NHS Continuing Health Care (CHC) Data Set

The NHS Continuing Health Care (CHC) data set is a patient level, output based, secondary uses data set which aims to deliver robust, comprehensive, nationally consistent, and comparable person-based information for people over the age of 18 years accessing NHS CHC services and NHS funded nursing care located in England.


OPCS Classification of Interventions and Procedures (OPCS-4)

OPCS is a procedural classification used by health care providers and national and regional organisations to support operational and strategic planning, resource utilisation, performance management, reimbursement, research and epidemiology. It is used by NHS suppliers to build/update software to support NHS business functions and interoperability.

Organisation Data Service (ODS)

Organisation Data Service (ODS) is responsible for publishing organisation and practitioner codes that identify organisations and individuals across health and social care, along with related national policies and standards. ODS codes facilitate a patient’s treatment by providing unique identification codes for organisational entities of interest to the NHS, for example NHS Trusts or CCGs, organisation sites such as hospitals, or GP Practices.


Patient Administration System (PAS)

Used by trusts to record patient data. 

Post-deadline processing

The processing undertaken at the close of a submission window by the central data repository.

Pre-deadline processing

The processing carried out immediately on a submitted file to validate the file as a whole, extract the records that are (or may be) for the particular reporting period, and validate those records.


Read V2

A clinical coding language used for diagnosis and treatment, which has now been deprecated and largely replaced by SNOMED CT.

Reporting period

The period (usually a calendar month) for which a particular data upload refers.


Secondary uses

Re-using clinical and operational information for purposes other than direct patient care; for example, national reporting.

Sexual Orientation Monitoring (SOM)

Sexual Orientation Monitoring (SOM) information standard monitors the sexual orientation of service users across all data sets, relating to adults and young people over the age of 16 years, in the health and social care system in England.


SNOMED CT is an international clinical terminology that provides machine readable codes for clinical concepts; the clinical concepts being also represented in a consistent and human readable form through descriptions. SNOMED CT has been selected and approved as the terminology to be adopted by the NHS in England.

Standardisation Committee for Care Information (SCCI)

The Standardisation Committee for Care Information (SCCI) was a committee with responsibility for overseeing the development, assurance and approval of information standards, data collections and data extractions used within the health and social care system. On 1 April 2017, the Data Coordination Board (DCB) took over responsibility for the approval of standards from SCCI.

Strategic Data Collection Service (SDCS) Cloud

A secure data collection system used by health and social care organisations to submit data to NHS Digital for national data sets. Replaces the Bureau Service Portal (BSP). 

Submission period/window

The time period (usually approximately one calendar month) during which a data provider may submit data uploads for a given reporting period.


Technical Output Specification (TOS)

A specification that fully defines the data items within the output data set. The Technical Output Specification splits the data set into a number of data groups (tables), each containing related data items and values, and also includes validations and derivations applied at the landing portal (within the ‘enhanced’ TOS).

Technology Reference data Update Distribution (TRUD)

A website that hosts technology reference data files from NHS Digital, such as IDBs and XML schemas.


Valid Other Default Invalid Missing (VODIM)

The data sets include 'VODIM' data validation rules around important data fields. These group data submitted by providers into one of five categories: Valid, Other, Default, Invalid, Missing.



XML is a markup language that defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format that is both human-readable and machine-readable. The W3C's XML 1.0 Specification and several other related specifications, all of them free open standards, define XML.

XML Schema

An XML Schema describes the structure of an XML document. XML schemas are used for national data set extracts from, and in some cases submissions to, the data landing platform.