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Organisation Data Service

The importance of a centralised administrative code set

It is vital to the provision of effective healthcare that the various locations involved in a patient's treatment can communicate quickly and efficiently.

Organisation Data Service (ODS) codes facilitate this process by providing unique identification codes for organisational entities of interest to the NHS, for example NHS Trusts or PCTs, organisation sites such as hospitals, or GP Practices.

The codes are distributed to the wider NHS and uploaded on to IT systems, thus providing a set of organisational data and organisation types, names, addresses etc that are consistent across the board.

This allows those IT systems to identify precise locations reliably, quickly and easily. This requirement for systems to ensure that only valid data is exported is a normal function of any IT system and is essential for the correct exchange of information.

On top of this the ODS coding structure provides a clear picture of the NHS organisational hierarchy, and the links between the various organisations at different levels; for instance the fact that a particular site is the responsibility of a certain Trust, and the fact that Trust reports to a particular Strategic Health Authority, and so on.

Data is also archived, providing a detailed record of how NHS structure has changed over time, in Trust mergers and name changes for instance - an essential resource for research.

ODS and the Spine Directory Service

The introduction of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) and the Spine Directory Service (SDS) meant that the data produced by ODS is even more important.

The SDS is the definitive source of information about NHS entities including organisations, their sites, GP practices, GPs etc. This information can be accessed by external organisations in different ways for different purposes.

One scenario is simply to retrieve data - an organisation connected to N3, i.e. a GP Practice, is able to request information on an organisation (e.g. name, address etc.) from the SDS.

Another is the sending of electronic messages. In order to send information correctly the appropriate entity codes are needed (e.g. source organisation code - destination organisation code). This information is obtained by searching the SDS.

Much of this information is supplied to the SDS by the ODS.


For publicly available information on current NHS organisations and practitioners, please consult the NHS Choices website.

More extensive files containing current and historical data are available to NHS and Department of Health users via the ODS section of the N3 website (NHS staff only, N3 connection required) and via files issued quarterly on to the Technology Reference-data Update Distribution service (TRUD). Users can apply for access to this service by visiting the TRUD website.

This data also includes extensive postcode information provided by the Office for National Statistics for use within the NHS and Department of Health.


Organisation Data Service
NHS Connecting for Health
Hexagon House
Pynes Hill
Rydon Lane
Devon EX2 5SE

Call the helpdesk on 01392 251289, or email the helpdesk.