Skip to main content
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.

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 PLICS on the NHS England and NHS Improvement website, which is supported by NHS Digital's PLICS data collections.


PLICS data collections already undertaken

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 Acute (continued implementation – 2020)
  • PLICS Mental Health (pilot – 2017)
  • PLICS Mental Health (continued implementation - 2018)
  • PLICS Ambulance (pilot – 2018)
  • PLICS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) (pilot - 2018)
  • PLICS Ambulance, PLICS Mental Health, PLICS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) for FY19/20 data (January 2021)

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 previously submitted

NHS Digital analysis of PLICS data is available on our webpages:

Acute Patient Level Activity and Costing
Mental Health Patient Level Activity and Costing
Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Patient Level Activity and Costing
Ambulance Patient Level Activity Costing


PLICS Integrated collection in Autumn 2021

Data collected 

This collection covers financial year 2020/21 data for which Patient Level Costing data is being collected for acute, mental health and IAPT services from all designated providers.  

For financial year 2020/21 data, to reduce the burden on costing practitioners of integrated trusts in completing multiple reconciliation documents, the extract specification for acute, mental health and IAPT providers has been integrated. This data had previously been collected via three individual collections.

The data collected contains unit costs for inpatient admissions, emergency care, outpatient attendances, mental health provider spells and care contacts and IAPT appointments for NHS providers in England.

This applies to designated providers as published in Annex A Section 2 of the Requirements Specification for Patient Level Information and Costing Systems (PLICS) Mandatory Collections continued implementation

The data collected will be 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
  • allow NHS Improvement to report the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the cost base in the English NHS

The data is collected annually.

The dataset for collection in Autumn 2021 is contained within the Requirements Specification for Patient Level Information and Costing Systems (PLICS) Mandatory Collections continued implementation Annex A Section 1 which is relevant to the associated Mandatory Request.

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

For further information please see the published Information Standard (DAPB4001) in place.

The format data should be submitted in

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

The format and structure of the XML files are detailed on the NHS England and NHS Improvement website – Integrated Schema.  

When the data collection takes place

PLICS Integrated submission window 2021

The submission window opens at 9am, 6 September 2021.

The submission window closes at 5pm, 26 November 2021.

There is no re-submission window.

Who is required to submit data

Further details can be found in the relevant Data Provision Notice.

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.

The PLICS extracts to be reported at patient level for this collection (if your trust provides the relevant services) are:

  • APC Feed type – 12 monthly files to be provided
  • EC Feed type - 12 monthly files to be provided
  • OP 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
  • MHPS Feed type - 12 monthly files to be provided
  • MHCC Feed type - 12 monthly files to be provided
  • IAPT Feed type - 12 monthly files to be provided
  • INTREC Feed type – 1 file to be provided

Integrated providers which provide all relevant services should submit 97 files which all pass validation as above.

For further details please also see the NHS England and NHS Improvement National Cost Collection Guidance.

PLICS Integrated – National Cost Collection Guidance: Volume 3 – Acute, Mental Health & IAPT

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

In addition to the notifications on the status of files received, each trust which has submitted PLICS data can access a report. Find further guidance on this 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@england.nhs.uk

What happens with submitted PLICS data

Data received at NHS Digital via SEFT is validated against an XML (Extensible Markup Language) schema. The outcome of schema validation is provided to providers, along with summary data quality reports being issued to providers and NHS England and NHS Improvement during the collection window. Data is stored and then matched if relevant. Data is processed, including further data quality checks, calculations and derivations being undertaken if relevant.

PLICS data may be linked to data held by NHS Digital from other data sets and collections.   

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).

PLICS data may also be linked to external data sources.

NHS Digital uses collected PLICS data in order to publish analysis of PLICS data as per requirements of release of Official Statistics.  It is intended that the information from the data collected will be made widely available through publication to commissioners, providers, clinicians, service users and the public (to inform choice). This will be published in a public facing manner on the NHS Digital website and at a trust level.

It is also intended that information from the data collected will be made available through the provision of data extracts (including linked data) to other organisations, subject to relevant information governance approvals. 


PLICS Ambulance collection in Autumn 2021

Data collected

This collection covers financial year 2020/21 for which Patient Level Costing data is being collected for ambulance services from designated ambulance providers. 

This contains activity and financial data for all incidents going through 999 call centres or dispatch centres within England.  

This applies to designated providers as published in Annex A Section 4 of the Requirements Specification for Patient Level Information and Costing Systems (PLICS) Mandatory Collections continued implementation.

The data 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
  • identify the relationship between incident characteristics and cos
  • support an approach to benchmarking for regulatory purposes
  • allow NHS Improvement to report the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the cost base in the English NHS

The dataset for collection in 2021 for financial year 2020/21 data is contained within the Requirements Specification for Patient Level Information and Costing Systems (PLICS) Mandatory Collections continued implementation Annex A Section 3 which is relevant to the associated Mandatory Request.

For details of the dataset specification for submission to NHS Digital please see on the Ambulance Extract Specification on the NHS England and NHS Improvement website.

For further information please see the published Information Standard (DAPB4000) in place.

The format data should be submitted in

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

The format and structure of the XML files are detailed on the NHS England and NHS Improvement website - Ambulance schema.

When the data collections take place

PLICS Ambulance submission window 2021

The submission window opens at 9am, 6 September 2021.

The submission window closes at 5pm, 26 November 2021

There is no re-submission window.

Who is required to submit data

Further details can be found in the Data Provision Notice.

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.

Ambulance providers should submit 13 files which all pass validation as below:

  • AMB Feed type – 12 monthly files to be provided
  • AMBREC Feed type –1 file to be provided

For further details please also see the NHS England and NHS Improvement National Cost Collection Guidance.

PLICS Ambulance – National Cost Collection Guidance Volume 5 - Ambulance

How Ambulance providers access feedback on their data during the submission window

In addition to notifications on the status of files received, each trust which has submitted PLICS data can access a report. See further guidance on this report.

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

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

What happens with submitted PLICS data

Data received at NHS Digital via SEFT is validated against an XML (Extensible Markup Language) schema. The outcome of schema validation is provided to providers, along with summary data quality reports being issued to providers and NHS England and NHS Improvement during the collection window. Data is stored and then matched if relevant. Data is processed, including further data quality checks, calculations and derivations being undertaken if relevant.

PLICS data may be linked to data held by NHS Digital from other data sets and collections.   

NHS Digital then pseudonymise the 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). 

PLICS data may also be linked to external data sources.

NHS Digital uses collected PLICS data in order to publish analysis of PLICS data as per requirements of release of Official Statistics. It is intended that the information from the data collected will be made widely available through publication to commissioners, providers, clinicians, service users and the public (to inform choice). This will be published in a public facing manner on the NHS Digital website and at a trust level.

It is also intended that information from the data collected will be made available through the provision of data extracts (including linked data) to other organisations, subject to relevant information governance approvals. 


Further submission information for trusts

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

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 relevant PLICS collection.

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 for each collection to which data has been submitted, 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@england.nhs.uk


Future PLICS collections

NHS Digital is working with NHS England and NHS Improvement to elaborate the requirements for a PLICS Early Implementers Collection for Community Health Services and for Acute Services for Trusts not mandated for PLICS for FY 2020/21 data. This collection is planned to take place in late Autumn 2021. More information on this will be provided in due course. 

If you have any further queries about the PLICS collections at NHS Digital please contact PLICS@nhs.net.


PLICS transparency information

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

Last edited: 8 October 2021 10:41 am