Consultation Hub


This site provides access to a number of consultations run by NHS Digital.

You can view our open and recently closed consultations below, or you can search for a consultation by keyword.

Open Consultations

  • Cyber operational readiness support - CSSM Satisfaction Survey

    NHS Digital’s Data Security Centre Cyber Operational Readiness Support (CORS) Your organisation recently received cyber operational readiness support from NHS Digital’s Data Security Centre (DSC) delivered by one of our trusted suppliers. We... More

    Closes 30 June 2021

  • Unified Cyber Risk Framework - CSSM Satisfaction Survey

    NHS Digital’s Data Security Centre UNIFIED CYBER RISK FRAMEWORK Your organisation recently engaged in the Unified Cyber Risk Framework support from NHS Digital’s Data Security Centre (DSC), delivered by one of our trusted suppliers. We would like to take this... More

    Closes 30 June 2021

  • Technical Remediation support - CSSM Satisfaction Survey

    NHS Digital’s Data Security Centre TECHNICAL REMEDIATION SUPPORT Your organisation recently received technical remediation support from NHS Digital’s Data Security Centre (DSC) delivered by one of our trusted suppliers. We would like to take this opportunity to... More

    Closes 30 June 2021

  • SCR in Community Pharmacy – Acceptable Use Agreement

    Completion of the agreement confirms the pharmacy contractor and relevant members of their team at the pharmacy (site) have undertaken the actions required prior to accessing SCR (detailed below) and agree to comply with the ongoing requirements (detailed below) for access to the SCR application.... More

    Closes 30 September 2021

  • Summary Care Record New Interest Form

    Summary Care Records (SCR) are an electronic record of important patient information, created from GP medical records. They can be seen and used by authorised staff in other areas of the health and care system involved in the patient's direct care. Before completing this form,... More

    Closes 1 October 2021

Closed Consultations

We Asked, You Said, We Did

Here are some of the issues we have consulted on and their outcomes. See all outcomes

We asked

We consulted on the future of the Guardianship under the Mental Health Act data collection and publication. Our proposal was that we would cease this publication due to very low numbers nationally and limited use of the publication.  We sought to establish who uses the data, how it is used and what would be the impact if the publication was discontinued.

You said

62 responses were received. 53 of these were from local authorities, and 9 were from other organisations, including national bodies such as the Approved Mental Heath Professionals (AMHP) Leads Network.

The support for the proposal was split as follows:


Support proposal to cease

Do not support proposal to cease

Local Authority










Reasons given for supporting the proposal were:

  • Guardianship orders are not widely used in practice
  • The published data is not used.

However it was acknowledged by a couple of respondents that some monitoring and oversight would still be valuable. 

Reasons given for not supporting the proposal are summarised as:

  • It is important to know how Guardianship orders are being used, despite the small numbers, as it remains a statutory provision.
  • People under Guardianship are subjected to the restrictions under the Mental Health Act and this should not be taken lightly. It is vital that we keep a record of who is under these sections of the legislation.
  • The data provides national oversight. It is not being collected or published anywhere else.
  • It has an important use in questioning why some areas are not using Guardianships.
  • Accurate statistics should be provided regarding use of all aspects of the Mental Health Act.
  • This is not the right time to discontinue the data collection and publication, given the Government’s Mental Health Act white paper and ongoing consultation of its proposals. This includes the aim to reduce the number of people detained in hospital and to reduce the restrictions placed upon patients. As Guardianship is arguably the least restrictive of all the sections of the MHA, it is important to continue the data collection to know how much it is being used and who is using it.

Of the respondents who said they currently use the data, all aspects of the data collection are important, this includes:

  • Number of new and continuing cases
  • Duration
  • Legal basis
  • Relationship to Guardian
  • Organisation and geographical area

We did

Firstly we would like to sincerely thank everyone who responded. You have provided valuable and important information to us which we were not previously aware of.

We have weighed up the responses, and whilst the majority supported the proposal to cease, we acknowledge the counter-view that it remains important to continue the data collection and publication. This is in order to provide an accurate national position, which would not be otherwise available, and it was pointed out that it is especially important at this time when a review of the Mental Health Act is ongoing.

Therefore we will be going ahead with the next data collection from 01 April 2021 and we expect to publish the data in September 2021. This will collect data for the periods 01 April 2018–31 March 2019, 01 April 2019–31 March 2020, 01 April 2020–31 March 2021.

Following this consultation it has since become clear that there are further factors to consider in terms of the longer term future of the Guardianship data collection and publication, such as the NHS Digital data strategy currently in development and Mental Health Act reforms. We will be open and transparent about any future decisions that are made.

In previous years we have produced an in-depth report to set out the findings. This year we will present the data in Excel tables and reduce our written commentary on the findings. However, as with all our data collections, users are encouraged to approach us directly with any requests for additional analysis and we can work with you to understand your requirements and provide the data.

We asked

We consulted on the future of the General Ophthalmic Services: Workforce and General Ophthalmic Services: Actiivity Statistics publications produced by NHS Digital. Our proposal was that we would cease these publications due to issues with data quality, relevance and usage.

You said

Seventeen responses were received from a range of organisations, including NHS organisations, central government, professional bodies, regulators and charitable organisations. The responses received did not support our proposals to cease the General Ophthalmic Services Workforce and Activity publications.

They highlighted the following key points in response to our proposal:

  • The publications are the only source of information for ophthalmic services and inform decision making, planning of service provision and funding processes.
  • Although data quality issues are recognised, the current publications are nonetheless used to measure activity, monitor change and analyse development. Many respondents asked us to investigate the data quality issues and improve the quality.
  • Ceasing the publication would have a negative impact on the ability to make informed evaluations and decisions regarding primary care ophthalmic services.
  • Concerns were raised that once collections and publications are ceased; they would not resume.
  • Efforts should be made to work with the relevant central bodies and data providers to improve data quality especially as a new source for data in England will be available during 2020.

We did

We have reviewed the responses and will undertake the following:


  1. Using the existing Central Ophthalmic Payments (Open Exeter) data source, in 2020 we will publish:
    • General Ophthalmic Services: Workforce (England and Wales) 2019
    • General Ophthalmic Services: Activity Statistics (England) 2019-20 publications

These will be the final publications using the current data source and although they will have similar content to previous releases, in accordance with the EU Web Accessibility Directive 2016/2102, they will be made available in HTML rather than in PDF format. Any accompanying data may also be released in CSV and/or an interactive visualisation tool to enable users to perform their own analysis.

 2. Beyond 2020, for both the Workforce and Activity publications, we will investigate the availability, quality and relevance of data from the new provider of Ophthalmic primary care support services in England. We will engage with the relevant organisations to understand responsibilities relating to data assurance and publication to determine whether the General Ophthalmic Services publications can continue. If so, any future releases may differ in scope and form to those produced currently according to the completeness, coverage and quality of the information available. We will provide further details as appropriate.

3. Ophthalmic Workforce statistics – Wales: The new data source does not include workforce information for Ophthalmic practitioners in Wales so at this stage NHS Digital are unable to commit to continuing a workforce publication for Wales after the 2019 release. 

We asked

We asked for your support in enhancing our role from custodians of national health and care data, to one where we are also data collaborators and innovators and as part of this, work with partner organisations to remove duplication across the system so we are all delivering maximum value.

As a result we are developing our partnership with the NHS Business Services Authority to migrate existing primary care medicines publications to align with the NHSBSA data releases whilst expanding and increasing the usability of prescribing data in our remaining publications as new data sources become available.

Together, we are working in partnership to deliver a patient level Primary Care medicines dataset through NHS Digital’s Data Access Request Service (DARS) by summer 2020. This will:

  • deliver and facilitate analysis of more granular data, data linkage and statistical analysis of linked data;
  • make anonymous outputs available as open data;
  • identify new opportunities in the data through linkage to wider health data to improve patient safety and outcomes;
  • ensure coherence, consistency and value across our outputs; and
  • reduce duplication of existing aggregate outputs.

You said

Thirteen responses were received from a range of organisations at all levels of the NHS and industry. The responses received in the main supported our proposals to migrate publications to the NHSBSA as the data controllers to enable timelier access to data and ensure data was available from a single source of truth. Responses also included suggestions to improve usability by providing access to the data at a more granular level.

Concerns were raised however on the continuity of the quality and level of data that would still be available following the change in ownership of publications. 

You highlighted the following key points in response to our proposals:

  • Publications should continue to meet the standards required of National Statistics following any change in ownership;
  • The level of the data should, as a minimum, remain the same or become more granular where available to support analysis by Primary Care Networks and patient level LSOAs;
  • Any changes in data formats should be communicated with users well in advance of any changes;
  • Any future suppression of data should not impact on current availability and usability of the data.

Therefore, we are taking the following steps to support these proposals as detailed in the We Did section.

We did

Migrate the Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) publication to the NHSBSA

The PCA proved to be one of the most popular of our publications with respondents, supporting a range of uses. All respondents were supportive of the move of this publication to the NHSBSA for 2020. Users were concerned that any changes to the data structures and format need to be communicated to users in a transparent and timely manner.

Users would also like to see:

  • Comparable statistics at a national level between the countries of the UK;
  • Patient numbers and age breakdowns;
  • Data split by prescribing and dispensing views;
  • Granular data down to STP, CCG, Primary Care Network and Practice level.

NHS Digital will work with the NHSBSA to ensure a comparable data set is released as a minimum in early 2020 and adequate supporting documentation is published. The NHSBSA will also look to introduce summary patient level statistics to this publication in the future alongside their current monthly release of PCA data. This will include high level thematic insight pieces on specific topics or areas of interest aligned to the NHS Long Term Plan, for example, medicines used in Mental Health.

Migrate the Practice Level Prescribing in England release to the NHSBSA

The responses from users highlighted the issues of multiple publications with users split between using the PLP from either NHS Digital or the NHSBSA version. One response even stated they used the data as published by a third party.

Users were supportive of the migration to a single dataset published by the NHSBSA as long as there was no loss of data production and changes in structure and format were clearly communicated. Commercial users of the data noted that any suppression applied to this dataset would impact their business models of providing medicines and device reporting in NHS primary care, potentially making the dataset unusable.

Users need to be clear that the NHSBSA are the data controllers of the data, so any suppression protocols they apply would also affect the dataset that is passed to NHS Digital for publication. The NHSBSA are still developing and consulting on their disclosure control protocol and users need to be mindful that NHS Digital currently apply disclosure control to their publications where required and NHS BSA do not intend to do anything significantly different.

Users would also like to see expansion of this detailed dataset to include patient numbers and age breakdowns to improve polypharmacy analysis. Disclosure control may be needed for this information to enable the data to be released.

NHS Digital intend to publish a final dataset in February 2020 of data for December 2019 in its current format subject to feedback following more detailed work with users to ensure a seamless transition. Links and search facilities via the NHS Digital website will be provided to the NHSBSA dataset. Documentation on the differences in the datasets will be clarified and made available to enable users to transition to the NHSBSA data release as soon as possible. NHS Digital will work with the NHS BSA to ensure any supporting meta-data is searchable so users can quickly and easily locate the data.

 Migrate the Prescribing on Diabetes publication to the NHSBSA

The publication focuses on a specific set of medicines relating to the treatment of diabetes and as a result has a specialised user base. Users welcomed the move to timelier data becoming available with an increase in frequency to quarterly data and were supportive of the move if the raw dataset continued to be available.

As a result, the NHS Digital diabetes publication in November 2019 will move to using the latest NHSBSA data as the source and will be lighter in terms of its analysis. It will focus on 4 or 5 key points and then signpost users to a variety of supporting information on Diabetes, such as the National Diabetes Audit and QOF registers. NHS Digital will work with the NHSBSA to produce a quarterly Diabetes release in 2020 that will continue to produce National and CCG level data and expand to include some patient demographic data.

 Migrate the General Pharmaceutical Services to the NHSBSA

Only one response out of the 13 said they used the General Pharmaceutical Services publication and stated that they also used additional data extracts direct from the NHSBSA and were concerned about variations in the numbers they received.

NHS Digital will therefore produce a final General Pharmaceutical Services publication in November 2019 of some high-level figures with raw data files and signpost users to the variety of different data sources. We will work with the NHSBSA and key stakeholders and users to determine the key information that is required to support policy development of pharmaceutical services and develop how best to present this information. The aim is that the NHSBSA will publish a redesigned annual publication, focused on user needs and aligned to the data available to the NHS as management information to ensure a single version of the statistics is available. This may expand in future to potentially be a single publication covering all pharmacy, ophthalmic and dentistry contractors in primary care.

NICE Technology Appraisals in the NHS in England (Innovation Scorecard) to reduce frequency

Developments to the Innovation Scorecard are overseen by a Strategic Working Group and Technical Working Group with representatives from key stakeholder organisations such as the Office for Life Sciences, NICE, NHS England and industry representatives. Work is on-going with users to improve usability and functionality in association with delivering the requirements from the Accelerated Access Review and the 2019 Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing.

Users supported the move to a bi-annual release if this would result in an improved product for users and the breadth and depth of information was at least maintained if not enhanced. As a result, the Innovation Scorecard will be reduced in frequency from 4 to 2 publications a year. The aim will be to publish in April and October each year. This will enable the scope of the product to be clearly defined with stakeholders and developed into the publication cycle so the Innovation Scorecard can transition into a product that meets the needs of end users.

Prescribing Costs in Hospitals and the Community to move to new data sources

Users responded stating that this publication is useful and unhelpful in equal measure. Users recognise it is the only source of information on overall cost of medicines in the NHS whilst being aware of its limitations due to the data sources available. Users welcomed a move to data that more accurately reflects the true cost of medicines to the NHS to determine the true scale of spend and growth.

The publication in November 2019 will start the transition of the report to new data sources that are becoming available and to focus on actual costs to the NHS. The primary care prescribing component will be sourced from the NHS BSA’s new data warehouse which brings several data improvements, the main one being that prescribing by Dentists will also be included to ensure the whole of primary care prescribing is captured in the costs.

The secondary care prescribing component will use actual cost data from Rx-Info that is currently being used for monitoring purposes within the NHS. The HPAI data set from IQVIA will continue to be used for costs at list price to provide contextual information on the indicative discounts currently being achieved by the NHS.

The publication will initially focus on National level data due to the differences in regional reporting between the data sources. We will work with data suppliers to align this over time so that future publications become richer and more detailed in the information provided on the cost of medicine use in the NHS.