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Patient Level Information and Costing System (PLICS) Data Collections

NHS Digital is supporting the data collection and processing requirements of NHS Improvement’s Costing Transformation Programme.

NHS England and NHS Improvement's Costing Transformation Programme (CTP) was set up to implement PLICS across acute, mental health, ambulance and community providers.

The CTP involves:

  • introducing and implementing new standards for patient-level costing
  • developing and implementing one single national cost collection to replace current multiple collections
  • establishing the minimum required standards for costing software and promoting its adoption
  • driving and encouraging sector support to adopt Patient Level Costing methodology and technology

Learn more about the NHS England and NHS Improvement Costing Transformation Programme, supported by NHS Digital's PLICS data collections.

The following PLICS data collections have been carried out by NHS Digital:

  • PLICS Acute (pilot – 2016)
  • PLICS Acute (wider rollout – 2017)
  • PLICS Acute (continued implementation – 2018)
  • PLICS Acute (continued implementation – 2019)
  • PLICS Mental Health (pilot – 2017)
  • PLICS Mental Health (continued implementation - 2018)
  • PLICS Ambulance (pilot – 2018)
  • PLICS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) (pilot - 2018)

NHS England and NHS Improvement can request that NHS Digital puts in place systems to collect and analyse data. These are known as mandatory requests. Each of the published mandatory requests contain further details about the relevant data collection.

Analysis of PLICS data

NHS Digital analysis of PLICS data is available on the Acute Patient Level Activity and Costing page.

Data collected 

The Patient Level Information Costing Data Set is used to standardise the method of reporting cost information at Patient level. All designated providers of acute activity are required to submit Patient level costing data.

The Patient Level Information Costing Data Set is used to:

  • inform new methods of pricing NHS services
  • inform new approaches and other changes to the design of the currencies used to price NHS services
  • contribute to NHS Improvement’s strategic objective of a single national cost collection 
  • inform the relationship between provider characteristics and cost
  • help trusts to maximise use of their resources and improve efficiencies, as required by the provider licence
  • identify the relationship between patient characteristics and cost
  • support an approach to benchmarking for regulatory purposes

Designated providers of Acute services record and report patient-level cost data for acute activity (Admitted Patient Care, Emergency Care,  Outpatient Care, Specialist Ward Care and Supplementary Information) at the end of each financial year, consistent with the methodologies and submission processes in the NHS England and NHS Improvement Approved Costing Guidance, and in accordance with the published Information Standard.  This only includes those NHS providers noted in the NHS England and NHS Improvement costing mandation timetable and does not include non-NHS providers.  

There are two new PLICS extracts for 2020; Specialist Ward Care (SWC) and Supplementary Information (SI).  There are also some new data items and revisions to existing data items in the extracts for Admitted Patient Care (APC), Emergency Care (EC) and Outpatient Care (OP). 

The data is collected annually.

The dataset collected in 2020 is contained within the updated Annex A relating to the mandatory request from NHS Improvement requesting that NHS Digital continues to establish and operate a system for the collection and analysis of PLICS data. 

For details of the dataset specification for submission to NHS Digital please see the Acute extract file specification on the NHS England and NHS Improvement website.

When the data collection takes place

PLICS Acute submission window 2020

The submission window opens at 9am, 7 September 2020.

The submission window closes at 5pm, 13 November 2020. 

There will be no re-submission window.

Submissions are only accepted during the above submission window.

Please also see the NHS England and NHS Improvement National Cost Collection Guidance 2020 Volume 7: Data Submission for further details.

Who is required to submit data

Further details can be found in the PLICS Acute 2020 Data Provision Notice.

Please also see details of the Information Standard (DCB2123) in place.

How providers can submit PLICS data

PLICS files are to be submitted via Secure Electronic File Transfer (SEFT) to NHS Digital.

Further information on Secure Electronic File Transfer

You should ensure well in advance of submission that you are set up as a SEFT user to allow you to submit your PLICS files to NHS Digital. Before submitting your files, you should undertake a SEFT connectivity test to ensure you will be able to submit data without any issues.

Providers should ensure that data is submitted via SEFT well in advance of the submission window closing (see dates/times above) to allow time for all data transfers to complete and confirmation emails to be received with the status of file validation.

To take a connectivity test, email: seft@nhs.net

The format data should be submitted in

The PLICS files must be submitted to NHS Digital in XML format. 

Please also note that submitted files must:

  • be named as per the filename defined in the specifications
  • contain the header message and populated as specified in the specification 
  • contain activity data as specified in the specifications

The format and structure of the XML files are detailed on the NHS England and NHS Improvement website in the Structure of XML files for submission to NHS Digital and Schema Base Elements (zip file)

How many PLICS files providers should submit

Each Trust needs to make a full submission, defined as 12 monthly files per Feed type for all required activity data and 1 Reconciliation file.

For example, if you are a Trust delivering Emergency Care and Adult Critical Care services, you should submit 61 PLICS files which all pass validation as below:

APC Feed type (12 monthly files to be provided)
OP Feed type (12 monthly files to be provided)
EC Feed type (12 monthly files to be provided)
SWC Feed type (12 monthly files to be provided)
SI Feed type (12 monthly files to be provided)
REC Feed type (1 file to be provided)

For further details please also see the NHS England and NHS Improvement Volume 3: National Cost Collection – acute sector.

For further details of the Feed types above, please see the Acute extract file specification on the NHS England and NHS Improvement website.

What happens if the files do not pass validation first time?  

If a submitted file does not pass the validation checks first time at NHS Digital, then you can correct the issue(s) and submit the file again (subject to the submission window still being open).

For multiple submission attempts, NHS Digital will only use the last good file when processing data from your trust (the latest file submitted which passed validation).  

Please note that this means this will overwrite any previously submitted data for that given file for the PLICS Acute collection taking place in 2020.

What notifications you will receive

You can expect to receive email notifications after submitting PLICS data to NHS Digital.

We will send an automated validation email, outlining the passed / failed validation status per file submitted, to provide timely feedback to data submitters.

In addition to the above, providers will also receive a daily status email, which will summarise the current submission status for your trust. This summary email is only issued the following day after a submission attempt (if you have submitted one or more PLICS files in the last 24 hours to NHS Digital). 

Technical problems submitting data to NHS Digital

Please raise a service call with the NHS Digital National Service Desk: ssd.nationalservicedesk@nhs.net

The National Service Desk will respond directly to your query or triage it to an appropriate team to respond. Please ensure you reference PLICS when raising your query to ensure there is minimal delay. 

How NHS Digital file checks relate to the NHS England and NHS Improvement Data Validation Tool checks

If your files pass the mandatory validations in the NHS England and NHS Improvement Data Validation Tool, then they should also pass the file validation stage at NHS Digital.

Any queries on the NHS England and NHS Improvement Data Validation Tool should be directed to: costing@Improvement.nhs.uk

How providers access feedback on their PLICS Acute data during the submission window

In addition to the notifications (mentioned above), each Trust which has submitted PLICS Acute data can access a report.  The below guide provides details of the report produced by NHS Digital for Trusts and how Trusts access that report. 

PLICS Guide – Acute Trust Specific Summary Report

Questions about the NHS England and NHS Improvement National Cost Collection guidance

All questions relating to the National Cost Collection guidance should continue to be sent to NHS Improvement: costing@improvement.nhs.uk

What happens with submitted PLICS data

Data from a trust’s costing system will be produced at a patient level and submitted to NHS Digital via SEFT. The PLICS files submitted are then validated at NHS Digital. Subject to successful validation, this data is then linked to Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data held by NHS Digital.  

NHS Digital then pseudonymise the resultant linked data, before it is provided to NHS England and NHS Improvement via SEFT.  NHS England and NHS Improvement will then use this PLICS data (see above for further information on what the Patient Level Information Costing Data Set is used for). 

NHS Digital will publish analysis of the PLICS data linked to HES. NHS Digital may also link the PLICS data to other activity and outcome data and publish analysis. NHS Digital may make the data available to other organisations via the Data Access Request Service (DARS).

How data previously submitted has been used

Please see Acute Patient Level Activity and Costing.

The submission window opens at 9am, 11 January 2021.

The submission window closes at 5pm, 29 January 2021.

There will be no re-submission window.

Submissions are only accepted during the above submission window.

Please also see the NHS England and NHS Improvement National Cost Collection Guidance 2020 Volume 7: Data Submission for further details.

Extract Specifications are being elaborated and Information Standards are in development for the above collections.

To support successful PLICS collections NHS Digital will, in collaboration with NHS England and NHS Improvement, be supporting a number of implementation sessions for Mental Health Trusts and Ambulance trusts over the coming months.  If you have any suggestions for topics for NHS Digital to cover in these please contact PLICS@nhs.net.

Further details of these collections, including supporting information for Trusts will be provided as they are available.

You can find further transparency information for PLICS on the Transparency notice: how we use your personal data page. 

Last edited: 19 October 2020 2:02 pm