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Users, uses and access to Hospital Episode Statistics

Who hospital episode statistics (HES) are for, how they are used and how to apply for access. This includes the local authority HES Data Extract Service.

Who HES is for

HES provides data for the purpose of healthcare analysis to the NHS, government and others including:

  • national bodies and regulators, such as the Department of Health, NHS England, Public Health England, NHS Improvement and the CQC
  • Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) 
  • provider organisations
  • government departments
  • researchers and commercial healthcare bodies
  • National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE)
  • patients, service users and carers
  • the media

Download the guide for analysis of Hospital Episode Statistics.

Uses of the statistics

Our statistics are known to be used for:

  • national policy making
  • benchmarking performance against other hospital providers or ICBs  
  • academic research
  • analysing service usage and planning change
  • providing advice to ministers and answering a wide range of parliamentary questions
  • national and local press articles
  • international comparison

Access to data

In addition to the standard analyses published by NHS Digital, certain users can also access data via the:

  • Data Access Environment (DAE) - approved users can access NHS data to perform analysis
  • Monthly Managed Extract Service (MMES) - users receive an extract from HES on a monthly basis
  • Data Access Request Service (DARS) - users who require bespoke analyses can request extracts from HES, or tabulations tailored to their requirement

If you request access to patient level data you may have to meet certain criteria before we'll consider your application.

Local authority HES Data Extract Service

The local authority HES Data Extract Service gives public health teams direct access to de-identified HES records for:

  • all inpatient admissions in England from 2004/05 onwards
  • all outpatient admissions  in England from 2004/05 onwards
  • all A and E admissions in England from 2007/08 onwards

Updates to the data are provided on a monthly basis.

Local authority public health teams require HES data to evaluate the performance of local health services and to inform the commissioning of new services. The data may only be used to support their statutory public health duties, and the public health team will be responsible for ensuring that confidentiality is protected and that conditions on the use of the data are adhered to.

Apply to access the HES Data Extract Service

All requests to access record-level data from NHS Digital are handled by the Data Access Request Service (DARS). All applicants wishing to access NHS Digital's data must have a Data Sharing Framework Contract (DSFC) in place, together with a Data Sharing Agreement for each purpose.

A standard application template has been produced for local authorities wishing to access pseudonymised data through the HES Data Extract Service.

Step 1

Email [email protected] citing reference 'LAPH HES Extract' and the name of your local authority in the email subject field to request a copy of:

  1. the HES Data Extract Service standard application template
  2. the standard Data Sharing Framework Contract (if your local authority does not already have one in place with NHS Digital). The forms above are examples only. Email [email protected] to request a clean copy of the DSFC from DARS.

Step 2

Complete the information for your local authority as indicated in the standard application template and the DSFC, and return both to NHS Digital.

Step 3

Completed applications will be considered via by DARS and, if approved, the contract countersigned by NHS Digital and a Data Sharing Agreement sent to the director of public health to sign and return; this process will take approximately 30 working days (excludes the DSFC process).

Step 4

Once the Data Sharing Agreement has been countersigned by NHS Digital a user name and password for the Secure Electronic File Transfer (SEFT) service will be sent to the named member of the public health team, who will then be able to access the data.

Further information


Last edited: 16 January 2023 12:28 pm