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Emergency care team

The Emergency Care Data Set is a recently created national data set for urgent and emergency care. The data set has been designed in partnership with the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), following consultation and piloting in hospitals.

It replaces the previous Accident and Emergency Commissioning Data Set which was not reflecting changes in health care practice or collecting enough data to understand how and why people attend Accident and Emergency departments.

The new, more detailed Emergency Care Data Set will:

  • improve patient care through better and more consistent information
  • enable better planning of healthcare services, particularly over the winter
  • improve communication between health professionals
  • improve coverage across all accident and emergency departments

The better the data we capture, the more we can understand and commission services that improve care for patients and reduce pressure for staff. Hospital trusts are being actively encouraged to improve the quality of data submissions.


The ECDS is collected from records made by clerical and clinical staff within accident and emergency departments and is fed directly into the Hospital Episode Statistics data collection.

The ECDS contains 108 data items, including:

  • patient demographics (gender, ethnicity, age at activity date)
  • episode information (including arrival and conclusion dates, source of referral and attendance category type)
  • clinical information (such as chief complaint, acuity, diagnosis, investigations and treatments)
  • injury information (such as date and time of injury, place, type, activity and mechanism)
  • referred services and discharge information (onward referral for treatment, treatment complete, streaming, follow-up treatment and safeguarding concerns)


Data is submitted to us via MESH (Message exchange for Social Care and Health) onto the Secondary Uses Services SUS+ platform. 

Information will flow from ECDS to SUS+ as ‘Commissioning data set type’ messages. This flow will be daily or weekly (as opposed to the previous monthly submissions).

Analyse and interpret

This data is analysed by us to:

  • produce publications
  • support the payment by results (PbR) process (which provides funds to hospital trusts)
  • support NHS comparators

Researchers, policy makers, commissioners, local organisations and members of the public will be able to analyse and interpret this data for their own purposes. These might include:

  • health services research
  • monitoring and managing NHS service agreements
  • developing commissioning plans
  • monitoring Health Improvement Programmes
  • underpinning clinical governance
  • understanding the health needs of the population


Hospital Accident and Emergency Activity is published yearly by our organisation and NHS England in joint reports.

Data on attendances, emergency admissions and four-hour waits are also collected, which are published monthly by NHS England (MSitAE).

It will be possible to publish aggregate level ECDS data daily, to support local planning. When appropriate, patient level data will be available to researchers through the Data Access Request Service. ECDS will provide opportunities for linkage with other data sets to provide valuable data about associations and pathways of care across different settings.

How the Emergency Care Data Set (ECDS) will flow from the point of care to data consumers:

Emergency care dataflows in the ECDS

We also produce answers to parliamentary questions, freedom of information requests and other ad hoc data requirements. 


Although it is impossible to confirm all the benefits of the new data at this stage, it is anticipated that: 

  • improved quality of data collected in emergency departments relating to patient presentation, diagnosis, discharge and follow up will support improved commissioning, planning of staffing and other resources, and will lead to a better understanding of the benefits from new models of care, helping patients to receive care in the most appropriate care setting
  • feeding data back to the departments that have submitted it will help to ensure local improvements to patient care
  • better information will underpin future healthcare policy and strategy to ensure an improved quality of patient care
  • researchers will benefit from more accurate and comprehensive data on emergency healthcare to support research, audit and service improvement based on an extended evidence base
  • the information generated will enable commissioners to accurately fund, demand and implement strategic changes

Last edited: 26 April 2019 3:55 pm