Data Principles

Closes 18 Feb 2019

Opened 26 Nov 2018


Purpose of Consultation

We have prepared a set of 10 high-level principles for the management of data throughout the health and care system.  Although they are not intended to be enforced, these principles will guide national approaches to data management and the design of national services.  They also inform the design of new data collections and updates to the NHS Data Model and Dictionary. 

We are now consulting you to ask your views on these data principles so that we can improve them with the aim to adopt any updates in March. The updated principles will be published on the NHS Data Dictionary website:

What is a Data Principle?

A rarely changing rule or guideline that informs and supports the design and definition of data for the Health and Social Care System.  We have chosen to structure them into a statement, rationale and implication.

Why are the Data Principles important?

These principles will be used to design local and national systems for recording, collecting and analysing data. The ones we have defined that we’d like you to review are:

1. The data, and their definitions, should by design introduce no harm to the patient

2. Information and Data are an asset

3. Data held must have an identified purpose

4. Data must be categorised at the most appropriate security level

5. Data and Information must be consistent across the health and care system to enable effective data portability. Definitions must be made available to users or applications on request in a machine-readable format

6. Identifiable data should have a unique identifier associated with it that is used consistently across health and care systems (e.g. NHS Number)

7. Data and information should be reusable across the health and care system – and where appropriate beyond for secondary research purposes

8. All operational data collected should be used to assist the management of the health and care system, and not only for secondary use cases that are not defined as part of operational use

9. Data should be readily available to enable the appropriate level of sharing to authorised users. The appropriate level of sharing will be determined by the security classification of the data.

10. Each NHS data asset must have an owner accountable for data quality, definitions, policies, business decisions, and enforcement of enterprise business rules for the data.

What we’d like you to do

We’d like you to review the principles 1-10 and indicate whether you agree with the given rationale and implications in each question A-C.  In addition, we’d like you to advise of any principles you think we’ve omitted (no.11) and provide any further comments (no.12).

The consultation will run from 26 November 2018 until 18 February 2019.


Why We Are Consulting

What are the benefit(s) of having these data principles

Having overarching data principles will set a framework for defining policy, standards and implementation.  With this framework in place, any new programme/project can apply it to ensure consistency and encourage adoption of best practice.

If the principles are followed, there will be less chances of data being compromised and the data will be more secure.  By abiding to this framework, data use across the health and care system will be more efficient, consistent and enable its possible reuse.   Should NHS Digital programmes not follow the principles, approval will be withheld from Governance groups such as the Enterprise Architecture Board (EAB) and the Data Coordination Board (DCB).

How are they going to be used/shared?

In sharing our principles, we are providing local and regional health and care organisations and the people designing, building and implementing their systems with a framework so that they can make conscious decisions about data and its management.

The data principles will be published in the NHS Data Dictionary and internally to NHS Digital.

What we’ll do with the results

We’ll use your review to improve the principles.  We’ll inform you of the actions we will subsequently take.

Click on the link below to participate


  • All Areas


  • IG Specialists
  • Public Health Organisations
  • Informatics Specialists
  • NHS Business Partners
  • Commercial Third Parties
  • Qualified Providers - Clinical
  • Qualified Providers - Non Clinical
  • CIOs
  • Health IT System Suppliers
  • Clinicians
  • Heads of Information
  • Information Managers
  • Data Quality Managers
  • TRUD SNOMED CT Subscribers
  • Clinical Coding Professionals
  • Clinical Coding Auditors
  • Coding, Finance & Information Managers
  • Acute Non Foundation Trusts
  • Acute Foundation Trusts
  • Care Non Foundation Trusts
  • Care Foundation Trusts
  • Ambulance Non Foundation Trusts
  • Ambulance Foundation Trusts
  • Mental Health Non Foundation Trusts
  • Mental Health Foundation Trusts
  • Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs)
  • Arms Length Bodies
  • Commissioning Support Units (CSU)
  • NHS Commissioning Board
  • NHS England
  • NHS England - Local Area Teams
  • Local authorities
  • Clinical Commissioning Groups
  • Social Care
  • Secondary Use Organisations
  • All Secondary Healthcare Providers
  • All Users of This Statistical Information
  • All Users of National Data Sets
  • Care Non Foundation Trusts
  • Care Foundation Trusts
  • Mental Health Non Foundation Trusts
  • Mental Health Foundation Trusts
  • Independent and Voluntary Sector
  • Private Health care provider
  • Information Teams
  • Clinicians
  • Data Consumers
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  • NHS Digital Staff
  • Other NHS Organisations
  • All NHS organisations
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  • Subject Matter Experts


  • Information Governance
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  • Governance
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  • Interoperability
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  • Information Standards
  • Data Set Change Notices
  • Data Collections
  • Commissioning Data Sets
  • Terminology
  • Informatics
  • Information Technology