Improving access to data

The Data Services team are supporting the NHS to better manage the high volumes of data which is generated as the NHS delivers its day to day responsibilities.

As part of this work we focus on three key areas, which are:

  • Gaining access to data to support commissioning.
  • Creation of a centralised national data repository.
  • Taking advantage of the latest technologies in data management and supporting their implementation in the NHS.

We have also developed two key resources for supporting commissioners:

  • Commissioner Assignment Method (CAM).
  • Conformed specifications to help standardise commissioning data.

Establishing access to data

Data Services are responsible for managing the process which allows NHS England to gain access to health-related national data sets, these data sets are then used to improve the commissioning of services. This work involves all the following elements:

  • Working with commissioning analysts to identify requirements.
  • Identifying and liaising with data controllers.
  • Establishing the legal basis for access to each dataset and how it will flow.
  • Ensuring data is of a usable format and meets necessary data quality checks.

If you would like to know more about this work and the health care data items used by the NHS, Data Services has created a reference library that provides definitions for all data items that are currently collated. You can access this reference library by following the link below:

Commissioner assignment method (CAM)

The NHS needs to be able to identify not only which organisation has delivered an episode of healthcare, but also which organisation is responsible for paying for it. There are national policies and guidance which mandate how the answers to these questions can be identified. Data Services supports this work by producing the Commissioner Assignment Method (CAM) which has been developed to implement these national policies and guidance.

The CAM is an algorithm which ensures that the correct commissioner code is assigned to an episode of healthcare. This is of benefit in complex policy areas.

Data Services will continue to lead the development of the CAM guidance and ensure the most current version is published on this webpage.

The CAM flowchart and supporting documentation is now available, you can view this using the links below.

Latest guidance

The Commissioner Assignment Method (CAM) guidance and reference tables were updated on 20 March 2020 to reflect that the commissioning of public health and secondary dental are at the regional level and not the STP level.

Previous versions

Conformed specifications to help standardise commissioning data

Data Services with the support of local organisations have published data specifications, these documents outline best practice specifications on how commissioners and healthcare providers should report commissioning data. The specifications aim is to supplement nationally-mandated information flows with local intelligence requirements in a consistent manner. Commissioners are encouraged to review these specifications and consider implementing them with providers to support conformance of local commissioning data.

The current conformed specifications can be viewed by following the link below:

Data Services have published other conformed specifications previously, these specifications have informed the development of new national data standards. If you would like to see where our work on specifications has added value to other data standards, please follow the links below: