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Creating a new NHS England: Health Education England, NHS Digital and NHS England have merged. More about the merger.

Spine Mini Service - simplified ways to connect to Spine

The Spine Mini Service is an easy way for systems to get information from Spine.

Connecting your system directly to the national Spine requires a secure NHS connection and appropriate levels of compliance with our information governance processes. The Spine Mini Service allows secure read-only connections to some national NHS services, meaning:

  • health and social care organisations can access some types of patient information more easily
  • developers can integrate their systems with Spine more easily, reducing barriers to entry for health and care system development

This service can be used through NHS Digital's own product, the NHS Digital Spine Mini Service Provider, or by using a set of specifications we provide to develop your own solutions, the Interoperability Tool Kit Spine Mini Service.

The NHS Digital Spine Mini Service Provider (SMSP)

The NHS Digital SMSP is an interface that lets health and care providers find important patient information on Spine. It's free and fully supported by NHS Digital.

The service currently makes demographic information available. Users can:

  • check that an NHS number exists, using other demographic details
  • search for patient demographic information based on a combination of NHS number, name, date of birth, postcode and gender

Using the SMSP is a simple and free way for health and care organisations to fulfil their duties under the NHS Standard Contracts to use the NHS number as a 'consistent identifier'. This means every patient is identified properly across care settings.

In the future we may develop the SMSP to let users connect with other Spine services, such as Summary Care Records or the Electronic Prescription Service.

How the SMSP works

The NHS Digital SMSP provides a web service interface, as part of the Spine platform. A local SMSP client can then be set up which can query certain Spine services through this interface.

Release dates for SMSP

The service has been piloted by a number of suppliers since the beginning of the year and was released for wider use from 3 July 2017.


If you are developing health and care systems, a health and care IT specialist, or responsible for IT in your health and care organisation, and you are interested in using SMSP, contact us via email on [email protected]. Read comprehensive guidance on the SMSP.

Interoperability Toolkit Spine Mini Services

The ITK SMS is a set of specifications that developers can use to design interfaces between their systems and national NHS services on Spine. This means systems can connect with Spine services, such as demographic, without needing full Spine compliance. More information can be found on ITK SMS in the Technology Reference Data Update Distribution (TRUD) site.

Last edited: 17 September 2019 11:14 am