We have detected that you are using Internet Explorer to visit this website. Internet Explorer is now being phased out by Microsoft. As a result, NHS Digital no longer supports any version of Internet Explorer for our web-based products, as it involves considerable extra effort and expense, which cannot be justified from public funds. Some features on this site will not work. You should use a modern browser such as Edge, Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. If you have difficulty installing or accessing a different browser, contact your IT support team.
Network access for APIs
Learn about how to access our APIs on the internet or on HSCN.
This page explains how to access our APIs using either the internet or our Health and Social Care Network (HSCN).
Some of our APIs are available on the internet but not directly on HSCN. This is generally the case for our newer APIs.
To see if a particular API is an internet-only API, read its API specification in our API catalogue.
Accessing internet-only APIs from HSCN
All HSCN connections can include internet access, so it should be possible to access internet-only APIs from an HSCN connection.
You can choose exactly how your HSCN connection provides internet access. There are generally two options:
- local breakout - provided by your own internet service provider
- the NHS Secure Boundary - provided by NHS Digital as an optional extra for your HSCN connection - but configured by your HSCN Consumer Network Service Provider (CN-SP)
If you are having problems accessing the internet from your HSCN connection, see HSCN internet access issues guidance.
Smartcard authentication for internet-only APIs
Some of our APIs need the end user to be a strongly authenticated healthcare professional:
- The most common way to do this is with an NHS smartcard. Currently, to authenticate an end user with an NHS smartcard, you require an HSCN connection.
- If you do not have HSCN access, so cannot use a smartcard, our NHS Identity service provides alternative ways of strongly authenticating healthcare professionals.
We are also considering making smartcard authentication available on the internet, but we need to find cases where there is a genuine need for this. If you would find this useful, please comment or vote on it on our interative product backlog.
Some of our APIs are available only on HSCN, not on the internet. To see if a particular API is an HSCN-only API, read its API specification in our API catalogue.
We are working on making all our APIs available on the internet in line with our Internet First policy. If you need to access an HSCN-only API and you only have internet access, you can help us prioritise our work by suggesting, commenting or voting on a feature to make the API available in the internet using our interactive product backlog.
Internet and HSCN APIs
Some of our APIs are available directly on both the internet and HSCN. This is generally the case for our older APIs, which were first available on HSCN and more recently on the internet. To see if a particular API is an internet and HSCN API, read its API specification in our API catalogue.