The HES data product is created from data submitted to NHS England as part of the Commissioning Data Set (CDS) which is managed by the Secondary Uses Service (SUS). At pre-arranged dates during a specific financial year, SUS takes a fixed snapshot of the CDS of cumulative activity recorded up to that point within that financial year.
This is then subject to additional processing to create a curated data product that is appended to finalised historical data that has been processed for previous years. Detail of the additional processing that occurs to create HES can be found on the Processing cycle and HES data quality page and the HES Technical Output Specification. HES has been designed to support ongoing business needs for many organisations with multiple user requirements.
Historically HES has been used for non-clinical purposes, such as research and planning health services. Because these uses are not related to direct patient care, they are called 'secondary uses'.
Improving how we use data to support the NHS was a key theme highlighted in the Data saves lives policy paper. HES data supports services like the NHS England Cohorting as a Service, and also research and innovation to power new medical treatments through services like the DigiTrials service. This is reflected in increased use of HES by customers for purposes relating to the direct care of individuals.
Through the increasing multiple use of HES the ongoing benefits provided by such a clearly defined data product is clear.
The Emergency Care Data Set (ECDS) is the national data set for urgent and emergency care, following a phased transition in reporting to the ECDS that commenced in October 2017. It replaced the HES Accident and Emergency Commissioning Data Set in April 2020.
HES does not include all mental health specific hospital activity, as Mental Health providers are required to submit this activity to the Mental Health Services Data Set (MHSDS).