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Creating a new NHS England: NHS England and NHS Digital merged on 1 February 2023. More about the merger.

Message Exchange for Social Care and Health (MESH): Workflow Groups and Workflow IDs

All MESH messages have a workflow ID which identifies the type of message being sent.

NHS organisations, IT specialists, adult social care teams and individuals should read this guidance prior to completing a mailbox request form.

A MESH mailbox usually only has one workflow group associated to it - a single use case. GP practices are an exception to this and generally have multiple workflow groups available on their mailbox.

The different ‘workflows’ assigned to each individual mailbox determines and identifies the type of message that is permitted to be sent and/or received by that mailbox.

To send a file or message from one organisation to another, each organisation must have the corresponding Workflow group assigned to their own mailbox to allow the message transfer to take place. For more technical users, this is comparable to the interactionID in an hl7 message. 

Each Workflow Group can be made up of one or more Workflow IDs. These IDs can either be an Initiator or Responder ID.

Download Workflow Groups and IDs

This spreadsheet contains a list of the current workflow groups and the workflow IDs within those groups available on MESH. Please enter the details of the workflow group and workflow ID(s) you require adding to a new MESH mailbox request when submitting the application form.


One-way message transfer process: Initiator Workflow ID

An Initiator workflow ID of the conversation is assigned to the mailbox of the party that sends the first file/message. In most cases the transfer of messages are usually a one-way process. Therefore, Workflow Groups that allow one-way transfers only have an Initiator Workflow ID.

Example of one-way message transfer process

An example of a one-way message transfer would be an organisation, such as an NHS Trust, conducting a vaccine study with volunteers. Each week the Trust compiles and issue a large weekly outcome report to another organisation, for example Public Health England.  


The Workflow Group in this case might be called VaccineX_Outcome_Report. As the message transfer is one-way then only an Initiator Workflow ID is required which we would call VaccineX_Outcome_Report.


The prefix ‘Init’ and ‘Resp’ expresses that the ID attached to a mailbox is an Initiator or Responder but this is generally dropped when referring to the ID itself.



Initiator workflow ID: VaccineX_Outcome_Report


This is summarised as:

Mailbox Workflow group initiator or responder Workflow group Direction Allowed
Trust Initiator Init_VaccineX_Outcome_Report Send Yes
Trust Initiator Init_VaccineX_Outcome_Report Receive No
PHE Responder Resp_VaccineX_Outcome_Report Send No
PHE Responder Resp_VaccineX_Outcome_Report Receive Yes

Two-way message transfer process: Initiator and Responder Workflow ID

A business process whereby a party initiates a first message, but this is then acknowledged by the receiving party and processed to produce a second message would require both an Initiator workflow ID and Responder workflow ID.

Example of two-way message transfer process

An example of business processes that describes where an Initiator and Responder workflow ID would be appropriate is when a pharmacy sends a flu vaccination message to a GP. 


The Pharmacy is the initiator of the conversation and therefore has the initiator Workflow ID EXAMPLE_FLU_VAC. The GP then responds with a message to let the pharmacy know it has received and processed the message. That is, updated the patient’s medical record with the vaccination details. Therefore the GP practice has the Responder Workflow ID EXAMPLE_FLU_VAC_ACK.


The ‘ACK’ refers to an acknowledgement which is the general term used for this type of messaging. This is a business ACK which is different to the mailbox acknowledging the download to MESH which simply indicates it has successfully downloaded the message.


In almost all cases a mailbox has either an initiator, or a responder workflow ID for a given Workflow Group but not both. 


Being set as an Initiator of a Workflow Group means that a mailbox may Send messages with any of the WorkflowID's in that group's Initiator list. It also means that the mailbox can Receive messages with any of the WorkflowID's in the group's Responder list.


Conversely, being set as a Responder of a Workflow Group means that a mailbox may Send messages with any of the WorkflowID's in that group's Responder list. It also means that the mailbox can Receive messages with any of the WorkflowID's in the group's Initiator list.


Workflow group: EXAMPLE FLU VAC

Initiator worfkflow: EXAMPLE_FLU_VAC

Responder workflow: EXAMPLE_FLU_VAC_ACK


This is summarised as:

Mailbox Workflow group initiator or responder Workflow group Direction Allowed
Pharmacy Initiator EXAMPLE_FLU_VAC Send Yes
Pharmacy Initiator EXAMPLE_FLU_VAC Receive No
Pharmacy Initiator EXAMPLE_FLU_VAC_ACK Send No
Pharmacy Initiator EXAMPLE_FLU_VAC_ACK Receive Yes
GP Responder EXAMPLE_FLU_VAC Send No
GP Responder EXAMPLE_FLU_VAC Receive Yes
GP Responder EXAMPLE_FLU_VAC_ACK Receive No

New Workflow Group/ID request or workflow amendment for an existing mailbox

If you require a workflow ID adding/removing from an existing MESH mailbox, or you require a new workflow group and ID creating, please complete our New workflow request/workflow amendment form.

Please note that if you require an existing workflow adding or removing from an existing MESH mailbox the form should be completed by the MESH mailbox administrator. If you are not the MESH mailbox administrator the request will be rejected. 

A new workflow request should only be completed by:

  • internal NHS Digital staff
  • a system supplier
  • an external user if they have already liaised with a member of the Service Management Cell 1 MESH Team or the SPINE DevOps Team to discuss and agree the new workflow request

All requests that do not meet this criteria will be rejected.

Last edited: 23 March 2023 3:35 pm