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Creating a new NHS England: NHS England and NHS Digital merged on 1 February 2023. All references to NHS Digital now, or in the future, relate to NHS England. More about the merger.

Spine technical information: Warranted Environment Specification (WES)

Computer systems which access NHS Digital services through Spine have to meet certain technical standards. The Warranted Environment Specification (WES) defines the client environments that we support and applications requiring a smartcard or other approved authenticator to be aligned with the terms and conditions.

NHS Digital WES

The WES defines the versions of software required to be installed on client machines in order that they are supported by NHS Digital to access NHS Spine systems and applications requiring a smartcard.

Use of client software versions which are not listed in the WES are not supported by NHS Digital for connectivity to NHS Spine systems.

If NHS organisations or system suppliers are using unsupported client software versions, connecting to NHS Spine systems will not be fully supported until migration to a supported version.

The WES defines the technical environments in terms of:

  • operating systems
  • browsers
  • Java virtual machines (JVMs)
  • smartcard printer drivers

NHS Digital strongly recommends that users and system suppliers consult the WES and assure themselves that all software versions currently in use are fully supported.

Check our software product support information to see when products like operating systems and browsers will stop being supported, to help with planning and service development.

Where environments being used do not comply with the WES, NHS Digital strongly recommends updating these environments to ensure continuity of service and support and incidents raised where unsupported versions of software are being used will not be accepted.

In addition to the information published by NHS Digital, organisations should also consult vendor support roadmaps to determine when underlying products, such as the operating system or browser, reach end-of-life. This should influence planning for the future to help ensure that deployed solutions have a long and supported lifespan.

This table describes the supported environment for each system listed. Windows Internet of Things (IoT) Editions are not supported.

NHS Digital Smartcard enabled system

Windows 8.1 and 102

Edge3 (IE mode)

Edge4 (native) Chrome4 Firefox Safari JRE (32-bit)
Care Identity Service application1 Yes Yes1 Yes1 Yes1 No No 82
Care Identity Management Yes No Yes Yes No No No
SUS Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No
e-RS - Professional Yes No Yes Yes No No No
Spine EPS Tracker4 Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Optional
Spine Reporting Service4 Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Optional
Spine Demographic application4 Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Optional
Spine TES Alert Viewer4 Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Optional
Spine SCR4 Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Optional
Spine MOLES (message tracker) and MESH UI Client4 Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Optional
Spine MESH Client4 Yes N/A N/A N/A No No 8, OpenJDK 11 and 17

1 Care Identity Service (CIS) application use in Chrome/Edge/Opera requires use of NHS Credential Management. This also allows the use of CMS (smartcard operations).

For Chrome and Edge it is instead possible to use the Chrome extension. However, the Chrome extension does not allow the use of CMS (smartcard operations).

Use of Citrix does not allow CMS (smartcard operations).

2 The CIS application is warranted against any version of JRE v8 (32-bit) up to and including v8.321, and Windows 10 up to and including v21H2 (64-bit).

3 Edge can be used in Enterprise (IE11) mode but requires a supported version of JRE v8.

4 Chrome and Edge (Native) would need NHS Credential Management (preferred) or the Chrome extension to work for the Spine user interfaces (UIs).

NHS Digital approved authenticators Win 10 Win 8.1 and earlier Edge Chrome Firefox Safari
Android tablet 1 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Apple iPad iOS version 11 or above 2 N/A N/A No No No Yes
Windows Hello for Business with FIDO2 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Security keys - enabled in CIS2 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Smartcards Yes Yes Yes Yes No No


See our Smartcard guidance for IT support page for available device configurations for smartcards.

1 Currently not available

2 iPad devices need to be managed by a Mobile Device Management (MDM) system and will require the CIS2 authenticator app.

Further information

internal Software product support information

The expandable fields below describe the support status of third party products commonly used in conjunction with NHS Digital’s own products.

Last edited: 20 December 2022 4:00 pm