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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.

Data Services for Commissioners Regional Offices (DSCROs)

This intermediary service is provided by the DSfC programme. 

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.

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 South
  • DSCRO South London
  • DSCRO South West
  • DSCRO Yorkshire

To contact a DSCRO, email,  or telephone 0300 303 5678.  You may check which DSCRO supports a particular Commissioning Support Unit (CSU), or Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in the xls icon legitimate commissioning relationships [30kb] spreadsheet.  This lists the relationships between CCGs, NHS England Area Teams (ATs), CSUs, DSCROs and others.

Find out more about legitimate commissioning relationships.

Details of the legitimate commissioning relationships are only published once a signed service contract for the provision of data processing services is in place, and with the express consent of those organisations involved.

Data Services for Commissioners Information Governance

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. 

To find out more about the type of information we collect, what it's used for and the personal choices you can make about the management of your care information, please go to How we look after information

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