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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.

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.


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

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


PLICS Acute collection in 2020

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 opened at 9am, 7 September 2020.

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

There is no re-submission window.

You can 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.

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

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

In addition to the notifications, 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.


PLICS Ambulance, PLICS Mental Health, PLICS IAPT collections of FY19/20 data

Data collected

The Patient Level Information Costing Data Set is used to standardise the method of reporting cost information at Patient level. Designated Ambulance, Mental Health and IAPT providers are required to submit Patient level costing data.

The data is used to:

  • inform the rules and guidance provided on the payment arrangements for ambulance services
  • inform any future proposals for the payment arrangements for ambulance services
  • inform new approaches and other changes to the design of the currencies used to price NHS services
  • contribute to NHS England and NHS Improvement’s strategic objective of a single national cost collection
  • identify 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 incident characteristics and cost
  • support an approach to benchmarking for regulatory purposes

The datasets for collection in January 2021 for financial year 2019/20 data are contained within the relevant annexes of the mandatory request from NHS Improvement requesting that NHS Digital establish and operate a system for the collection and analysis of PLICS data from Ambulance, Mental Health and IAPT providers as below:

Annex A – Data to be collected from Ambulance providers

Annex C – Data to be collected from Mental Health providers

Annex E – Data to be collected from IAPT providers

For details of the dataset specifications for submission to NHS Digital please see the extract files specifications on the NHS England and NHS Improvement website, for each collection as below:

For Ambulance providers - Ambulance extract file specification 2020

For Mental Health providers - Mental Health extract file specification 2020

For IAPT providers - IAPT extract file specification 2020

When the data collections take place

For PLICS Ambulance, PLICS Mental Health and PLICS IAPT collections of FY19/20 data:

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

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

There is no re-submission window.

You can 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 Data Provision Notices:

PLICS Ambulance Data Set

PLICS Mental Health and IAPT Data Sets

You can also see details of the Information Standards in place:


Further 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

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 as below: 

For ambulance providers - Format and structure for ambulance submission and Schema Base Elements.  

For Mental Health providers - Format and structure for mental health submissions and Schema Base Elements.

For IAPT providers -  Format and structure for IAPT submissions and Schema Base Elements.

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.

Below is a full list of all files that you should submit, depending on the PLICS collection you are completing:

For Ambulance providers you 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 Mental Health providers you should submit 25 files which all pass validation as below:

  • MHPS Feed type – 12 monthly files to be provided
  • MHCC Feed type – 12 monthly files to be provided
  • MHREC Feed type – 1 file to be provided

For IAPT providers, you should submit 13 files which all pass validation as below:

  • IAPT Feed type – 12 monthly files to be provided
  • IAPTREC 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 2020 Volume 4: Ambulance Sector

PLICS Mental Health – National Cost Collection Guidance 2020 Volume 5i: Mental Health Sector

PLICS IAPT – National Cost Collection Guidance 2020 Volume 5ii: IAPT

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@Improvement.nhs.uk

How Mental Health and IAPT providers access feedback on their PLICS Mental Health and PLICS IAPT data during the submission window

In addition to the notifications (mentioned above), each Trust which has submitted PLICS Mental Health data or PLICS IAPT data can access a report.  

A guide on the reports is available in the PLICS guide - PLICS MH and IAPT Trust specific summary reports.

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 may then be linked to other data held by NHS Digital.  

NHS Digital then pseudonymise the PLICS 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. 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).


Future PLICS collections

NHS Digital is working with NHS England and NHS Improvement to elaborate the requirements for PLICS collections of FY20/21 data, planned to take place from early Autumn 2021.

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: 26 March 2021 3:33 pm