Approved Costing Guidance 2021: Prescribed Guidance and Tools

The Prescribed Guidance published on this page supersedes all earlier versions and is mandated for all sectors with the exception of Community providers. In addition, there are Prescribed Tools to help you implement the prescribed guidance.


Approved Costing Guidance 2021 Documentation

The documentation for the 2021 Approved Costing Guidance is separated into Integrated (Acute, Mental Health and Community) Guidance and Tools and Ambulance Guidance and Tools

Integrated prescribed guidance and tools This link contains all the guidance and tools required for acute, mental health and community providers to implement the costing standards.

Ambulance prescribed guidance and tools This link contains all the guidance and tools required for ambulance providers to implement the costing standards.


The Approved Costing Guidance is the inclusive term for the:

  • Costing principles
  • Costing standards
  • National Cost Collection guidance

When reviewing the Approved Costing Guidance is it important to note that all paragraphs have equal importance, but each document will relate to different financial years. You can easily identify which financial year the document should be applied to by referencing the table on the front of each word document.

The main audience for the standards is healthcare costing professionals, but they have been written with secondary audiences in mind, such as clinicians, informatics and finance colleagues. While we refer to ‘patients’ in the context of patient-level costing, we recognise that people who access mental health services prefer to be referred to as service users, clients or residents. The use of the term ‘patient’ across all sectors allows us to maintain consistency in the standards for an individual’s entire health and social care pathway.

There are three types of standard: information requirements, costing processes, costing methods.

  • Information requirements describe the information you need to collect for costing
  • Costing processes describe the costing process you should follow
  • Costing methods focus on high volume and high value services or departments.

The first two sets of standards make up the main costing process and they should be implemented in numerical order, before the costing methods. We have ordered the standards linearly but, as aspects of the costing process can happen simultaneously, where helpful we have cross-referenced to information in later standards.

The costing methods should be implemented after the information requirements and costing processes, and prioritised based on the value and volume of the service for your organisation.

All the mandated standards are published on the NHS England website at the links above. The accompanying technical document contains information required to implement the standards, which are presented in Excel. Cross-references within the standards narrative referencing spreadsheets (eg Spreadsheet CP3.3) refer to the technical documents.