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Diagnostics Data Service

Improving data quality and interoperability standards in pathology, imaging, endoscopy, physiological measures and genomics health services.

The Diagnostics Data Service team are working to improve the information quality of diagnostics service outputs in order to improve the provision of healthcare in the NHS. Diagnostics services include pathology, endoscopy, imaging, physiological measures and genomics.

NHS Digital currently supports national products and services in the following diagnostics areas:

  • genetic test data
  • primary care pathology report messaging
  • imaging data standards and national information
  • laboratory data standards development
  • national diagnostics screening programmes

Genetic Testing Rates

The Genetic Testing Rates collection obtains information on the access to, and provision of, genetic testing for NHS patients, provided by UK Genetic Testing Network (UKGTN) member laboratories.

National Laboratory Medicine Catalogue

The National Laboratory Medicine Catalogue (NLMC) is a list of pathology requests and results data standards in development.

The latest release of the NLMC prototype (Version 5.1) was published on 3rd November 2015. NHS Digital is currently working to further develop information standards in this area, with strategic collaboration from NHS England, NHS Improvement and the Royal College of Pathologists.

Support for National Diagnostic Screening Programmes

Preventative screening tests can help with the early detection of potentially fatal conditions. Diagnostics Data is tasked with improving the quality of data and development of standards for newborn bloodspot screening, national cervical screening, national bowel screening and national breast screening

Imaging Data Standards and National Information

The Diagnostic Imaging Dataset (DID) Collection is a central collection of detailed information about diagnostic imaging tests carried out on NHS patients by care providers. Imaging service providers extract and submit DID data to NHS Digital on a monthly basis.

The National Interim Clinical Imaging Procedure (NICIP) Code Set is a comprehensive national standard set of codes and descriptions for imaging procedures, it is used by all Imaging Department information systems.

More information about Pathology Messaging

Primary Care Pathology Report Messaging

The Pathology bounded Code List (PBCL) provides a defined set of codes for use in laboratory to GP messaging.

All NHS Trusts providing a pathology service for Haematology, Biochemistry or Microbiology, are required to implement pathology messaging that meet PMIP standards. The National Messaging Assurance Service (NMAS) allows Trusts to assess their implementation of pathology report messaging against these standards.

As part of NHS England CCIO7 workstreams, NHS Digital is delivering the ability to share pathology results across health and care. Following The Future of Healthcare Vision and the NHS Digital standards framework response, NHS Digital was commissioned by NHSX to define Information Standards aligned with clinical, commissioning and patient needs to support the sharing of pathology tests and results across care settings and organisational boundaries. 

The need to accelerate the development of a standardised universal test list for Pathology services formed part of the recommendations made by Professor Sir Mike Richards in a wider diagnostic review commissioned by NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens in October 2020.

To meet future NHS needs for interoperability and secondary care use within the Pathology domain, three inter-related specifications have been identified based on relevant component parts of international standards, namely:

  • Unified Test List (UTL) – a national catalogue of Pathology test requests and results to replace the Pathology Bounded Code List (PBCL), based on SNOMED CT
  • Units of Measure (UoM) – an unambiguous representation of commonly used units, aligned with the UTL, based on Unified Code for Units of Measure (UCUM)
  • Pathology Message Specification – for interoperable data exchange of Pathology information, based on Health Level 7 (HL7) Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) 

Together, as an information standard, they enable the future communication and exchange of tests, results, quantities, and units used in the Pathology domain across the NHS. The full standard is intended for use by GP, Labs, secondary care and social care (where applicable), used in GP systems, LIMS, Order Comms, pathology middleware, & clinical research.

These standards will ultimately replace the current PBCL/EDIFACT specification and have now been approved by the Data Alliance Partnership Board (DAPB).

Further information can be found on the Pathology and Diagnostics collaborative workspace.

Further information

internal Primary Care Pathology Report Messaging

NHS Digital supports the digital reporting of pathology test results from NHS labs to GPs, amounting to approximately 50 million reports per year.

Last edited: 6 September 2022 12:21 pm