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Hospital Episode Statistics (HES)

Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) is a data warehouse containing details about admissions, outpatient appointments and A and E attendances at NHS hospitals in England.

About the HES database

Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) is a database containing details about admissions, A&E attendances and outpatient appointments at NHS hospitals in England.

Initially this data is collected during a patient's time at hospital as part of the Commissioning Data Set (CDS). This is submitted to NHS Digital for processing and is returned to healthcare providers as the  Secondary Uses Service (SUS) data set and includes information relating to payment for activity undertaken. It allows hospitals to be paid for the care they deliver.

This same data can also be processed and 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'. This is the HES data set. Please note that since mental health providers are now required to submit activity through the Mental Health Services Data Set (MHSDS), some have ceased submitting data to HES. HES therefore no longer includes all mental health specific hospital activity.

HES data covers all NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs)/Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) in England, including:

  • private patients treated in NHS hospitals
  • patients resident outside of England
  • care delivered by treatment centres (including those in the independent sector) funded by the NHS

Each HES record contains a wide range of information about an individual patient admitted to an NHS hospital, including:

  • clinical information about diagnoses and operations
  • patient information, such as age group, gender and ethnicity
  • administrative information, such as dates and methods of admission and discharge
  • geographical information such as where patients are treated and the area where they live

We apply a strict statistical disclosure control in accordance with the NHS Digital protocol, to all published HES data. This suppresses small numbers to stop people identifying themselves and others, to ensure that patient confidentiality is maintained.

The benefits of HES

You can use HES to:

  • monitor trends and patterns in NHS hospital activity
  • assess effective delivery of care
  • support local service planning
  • provide the basis for national indicators of clinical quality
  • reveal health trends over time
  • inform patient choice
  • determine fair access to health care
  • develop, monitor and evaluate government policy
  • support NHS and parliamentary accountability

HES publications

We publish a number of standard analyses that are free to access on the NHS Digital website. You can download these published data tables and analysis from our data catalogue.

Monthly HES publications

Monthly Accident and Emergency Quality Indicators

Annual HES publications for:

An issue has been identified with the Monthly A&E CQI Publications from January 2015 onwards, whereby two service providers (AAH - TETBURY HOSPITAL TRUST LTD and AD913 - BECKENHAM BEACON UCC) have been excluded from the report.

In both cases, the provider in question submitted data to NHS England sit-reps, but not to A and E HES.

As such, there is no change to the published data tables, but the two providers should be included in the list of NHS sit-rep providers not submitting to A and E HES in each month from Jan 2015 onwards.

Given the huge number of combinations of fields within HES, it's only possible to publish a limited number of analyses. If you can't find the data you're looking for in our catalogue, find out how to apply for other standard and bespoke extracts.

Further information

internal Payment by Results

Payment by Results (PbR) is a system of paying NHS healthcare providers a standard national price or tariff for each patient seen or treated.

internal The processing cycle and HES data quality

Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data comes from the routine submissions of data from providers to NHS Digital for the purposes of payment for and commissioning of healthcare in England.

internal Hospital Episode Statistics Data Dictionary

The Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) Data Dictionary is intended for use by all users of HES data. An NHS data dictionary works in the same way as a normal dictionary, but contains information about data items.

internal Hospital Episode Statistics data changes from 2021

From September 2021 we made changes to the way we process the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data set. These improvements provided data users with the tools to process larger volumes of data and manage incoming data to ensure that it is accurate, useful and secure.

Last edited: 7 March 2023 5:32 pm