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Creating a new NHS England: Health Education England, NHS Digital and NHS England have merged. More about the merger.

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Current chapter – Getting started with the Intermediate Database (IDB)

Accessing the IDB

The Intermediate Database (IDB) is a Microsoft Access file populated with the fields and tables following the data model for the data set being submitted. The correct version of the IDB, matching the data set and version number being submitted, must be used to submit data to the SDCS Cloud platform – no other IDB file may be used. The IDB file can be downloaded from the Technology Reference data Update Distribution (TRUD) website using the following links:

The TRUD website operates a free subscription service model whereby users subscribe to files they require. Subscription enables the user to be able to download the relevant file and receive updates by email when a new version of the file is available.

To use the TRUD website users must first create a TRUD account using the link at the top-right of the site. Once an account is created, users must be logged-in to be able to access files.

All all of the IDBs are stored under the Data Set Development Services tools link under the ‘categories’ menu on the left.

screen short of the data set development tools page with tools and subscribe highlighted

To access an IDB file for the first time, users must:

  • select ‘subscribe’ under the relevant file listing
  • follow the instructions on the subscription page to accept the terms of open government licence for using the file
  • click the ‘subscribe’ button at the bottom of the page to confirm.

The download page for the subscribed file will then load, with information about the latest release, giving the option to download the relevant file as shown in this screenshot. 

data set development portal screen with community services data set intermediate database section highlighted.



We recommend users opt to receive email notifications of updates to the file, as minor amendments may be made to IDBs on an iterative basis. While there may be instances where multiple data set versions can be submitted (for example when two versions of a specific data set are active at the same time, such as MHSDS v3.0 and MHSDS v4.0), in general the latest file should be used to make submissions.

General principles of use

The IDB provides a template for making submissions to the SDCS Cloud portal that must not be altered in any way. All tables must be present, even if some are not applicable or used in the submission (based on the activity that has taken place).  Note that while local macros may be used to assist in populating a local copy of the IDB, the presence of such macros in the IDB that is ultimately submitted to the SDCS Cloud, cannot contain any such local macros.  All fields listed in each table must also be present and field types must be unchanged. The structure of the IDB file used will be validated upon submission to the portal. Where a change to the file structure is detected, the file will be rejected with a status of ‘Rejected – DQ’ and an error message of ‘Failed database structure check’ given in the summary (validation) report for the file.

This guidance does not provide further details about the data required in the submission for any given data set and should be read in conjunction with the data set user guidance and Technical Output Specification for the specific data set.  

Reporting periods

The inclusion of data in the IDB file for submission is dependent on the reporting period being submitted for. Data is submitted on a monthly basis with each submission containing the relevant activity for the given reporting period.  Each data set has discreet differences with submission reporting periods.  Please refer to the relevant data set guidance for specific details about submission windows. 

With submissions to SDCS Cloud, the IDB file uploaded can only contain activity data for the reporting period the file is being uploaded against (as selected on the Cloud portal and as specified in the Header table of the IDB file which must match). If the reporting period date in the Header table does not match that selected on the Cloud portal when making the upload the file will be rejected. Activity data to be included during a reporting period should be for all active referrals opened (start date), closed (end date) or open throughout the reporting period. Activity records falling outside of the reporting period specified in the Header table will be rejected.  Specific rules for each data item in each table are detailed within the validation rules in the Technical Output Specification for each data set.

Last edited: 27 April 2023 3:23 pm