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Data Services for Commissioners


What is the Data Services for Commissioners programme?

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC)'s responsibilities as set out in the Health and Social Care Act 2012 include the collection, analysis and presentation of national health and social care data. The Act also gave HSCIC the powers to act as a safe haven and collect, hold and process personal confidential data (PCD) for purposes beyond direct patient care. 

NHS England has overall responsibility for £90 billion worth of healthcare commissioning in England. Directions from NHS England to HSCIC establish the Data Services for Commissioners (DSfC) programme.

Commissioners of healthcare services need to plan and commission healthcare services in their local area through analysis of actual and projected use of services across all parts of the care economy. This modelling requires access to information about care provided to patients, their hospitals stays and patient journeys but without accessing personal confidential patient data. Care commissioners do not provide direct patient care, and therefore they have no legal basis on which to access personal confidential patient information.

Therefore commissioners require an intermediary service that specialises in processing, analysing and packaging patient information into a format they can legally use.

This intermediary service is provided by the DSfC programme. 

Processing Patient Confidentiality

The DSfC programme has established a number of  regional processing centres, known as Data Services for Commissioners Regional Offices (DSCROs).  These regional offices support the information needs of commissioners with the provision of appropriate data controls.

DSCROs perform their services with staff from commissioning support units (CSUs) who are seconded into the HSCIC and work with data in the regional processing centres. Staff follow strict rules on accessing, analysing and processing data.  The powers granted to the organisation by the Health and Social Care Act 2012 mean that staff are operating within the approved legal framework.

The service allows clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), local authority public health teams and specialised commissioners to plan and commission those healthcare services in their local area and nationally using the services provided through the DSCROs.

Data Services for Commissioners Regional Offices (DSCROs)

The programme includes the following DSCROs:

  • DSCRO Central Southern
  • DSCRO Central Midlands
  • DSCRO Greater East Midlands
  • DSCRO North and East London
  • DSCRO North of England
  • DSCRO North West
  • DSCRO North West London
  • DSCRO South
  • DSCRO South London
  • DSCRO South West
  • DSCRO Yorkshire

To contact a DSCRO, email enquiries@hscic.gov.uk,  or telephone 0300 303 5678.  You may check which DSCRO supports a particular Commissioning Support Unit (CSU), or Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) listed below. Find out more about Legitimate Commissioning Relationships, including how to set them up.

xls icon DSCRO - Commissioning Relationships v1.4 [126kb]


Why do we need to process Personal Confidential Data?

The HSCIC is committed to the highest levels of information governance (IG) and control around the data it collects and manages. This includes achieving the highest levels of security and compliance which is comprehensively and independently audited annually. All staff handling patient information sign up to clear policies, obligations and training in relation to handling patient data. This ensures that data is securely captured, processed in a safe environment before providing that information to commissioners in a format they can use.

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 allows the HSCIC to handle personal confidential data (PCD). Security, processes and tools are used to minimise the visibility and accessibility of PCD, which allows staff to perform analysis and keep patient data confidential.

Data is provided to customers under a formal Data Sharing Contract with Data Sharing Agreements in place for each data flow and purpose. The agreements put clear obligations on the receiving organisation as to how they are allowed to process the data and for what purpose. 

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