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How to derive NHS hierarchy from ORD

In order to derive NHS hierarchy information (High Level Health Authority and National Grouping) from Organisation Reference Data (ORD), the relationship meta data must be used. There are various ‘named relationships’ in ORD which describe how one organisation entity is linked to another.

Author: Organisation Reference Data (ORD) Changes Project Team, NHS Digital

Published: 9 October 2019

Version: 1.0

Named relationship types in ORD

The definitions of Named Relationships within ORD can be found within Appendix 1 of the ORD Data Item Catalogue.

Key examples include:

  • RE2 – “Is A Subdivision of”
  • RE4 – “Is Commissioned by”
  • RE5 – “Is Located in the Geography of”

Relationships are held against the ‘source’ organisation, rather than the ‘target’ organisation (see table below for further details).

Relationship rules

A spreadsheet is available which defines the relationship rules supported within ORD between the different types of organisations.  This document provides guidance on which type of relationship to choose to map XML data to any existing hierarchies.

The ‘ORD XML Relationship Rules’ spreadsheet is published within the file on the XML Organisation Data Products webpage.

As examples, extracted below are the relationships held for prescribing cost centres (including GP Practices), and clinical commissioning groups (CCG).

Relationships held for Prescribing Cost Centres (including GP Practices)

Relationships held for clinical commissioning groups

The above shows that customers would use active ‘RE4’ commissioning relationship held against a prescribing cost centre/GP practice record to derive the CCG. The ‘RE5’ geographic relationship held against the CCG record would then give the NHS England Region (Local Office).

For sites, customer would use active ‘RE6’ operated by relationships to derive the parent organisation.


In the current GP Practice file (epraccur.csv), fields 3, 4 and 15 contain hierarchical data as follows:

GP practice file, fields 3, 4 and 15

The same prescribing cost centre/GP practice record is represented in XML as follows, with the same hierarchical data highlighted:

Prescribing cost centre/GP practice record represented in XML

Then access the ‘00K’ CCG record to derive the High Level Health Authority:

'00K' clinical commissioning group record

Then access the ‘Q74’ High Level Health Authority record to derive the National Grouping:

'Q74’ high level health authority record

Further information

For further queries regarding deriving NHS hierarchy from ORD, or general queries regarding ODS data, please contact

Last edited: 27 January 2022 2:53 pm