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Data Services for Commissioners team

Our Data Services for Commissioners (DSfC) team helps the NHS make the most of its data to improve NHS commissioning and ultimately patient care.

We do this by ensuring that commissioning decisions and the insights that support them are based upon robust, standardised data that has been processed efficiently and is accessed legally. 

Under the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and the Care Act 2014, Commissioning Support Units (CSUs) are not allowed to access patient identifiable data because they are not providing direct patient care. 

DSfC teams act as an intermediary, run by staff from CSUs seconded into NHS Digital. This enables us to access, analyse and process patient identifiable data, which is then used by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to improve their commissioning. 

We aim to reduce regional variability and ensure that all local commissioners conform to the same standards when applying for data from us. We do this by encouraging them to use standard data application models. 


We collect patient identifiable data and produce aggregated or anonymised outputs. CCGs use this information to improve their ability to commission appropriate and effective services.

Analyse and interpret

Commissioners analyse the data and use the insights for various purposes, including:

  • risk stratification – highlighting patients at risk of adverse outcomes, for example, those at risk of developing diabetes, so we can contact and offer these patients care or intervention that may reduce this risk
  • invoice validation – before commissioners can pay providers of care or services they need to ensure that the activity claimed for each patient is their financial responsibility
  • needs assessment – helping commissioners understand the needs of the population and develop the type and distribution of health and care services that will bring the greatest benefits to most people


Our DSfC team has identified legal ways for data to be shared with CCGs, Local Area Public Health teams and NHS England to help commissioners undertake their statutory duties.


We aim to improve NHS commissioning by ensuring that commissioning decisions, and the insights that support them, are based upon robust, standardised data that has been processed efficiently and is accessed legally.

Last edited: 14 September 2018 12:34 pm