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Hospital Episode Statistics (HES)

We collect information about patients in relation to their NHS visits and stays at hospitals in England. The information collected contains details of admissions to hospital, outpatient appointments, and A&E attendances.

This information is collected during a patient's time at hospital and is sent to the HSCIC to allow hospitals to be paid for the care they deliver. In addition this information is analysed to produce reports looking at disease areas or causes of admission to hospital and is also available for researchers to request to support specific research studies.

The information is collected about all NHS care from any relevant provider, including NHS hospital trusts and independent providers carrying out services for the NHS. This information is stored as a large collection of separate records - one for each period of care - in a secure location.

What we collect

These data include:

Details about the individual such as:

  • NHS number
  • Date of birth
  • Postcode
  • Gender
  • The GP practice the patient is registered with

Attendance details, such as:

  • Dates of admission to, and discharge from, hospital
  • Dates of attendance at outpatient clinic or A&E department
  • Whether the admission was planned or an emergency

Clinical details such as:

  • Diagnoses that cover the full range a hospital could deal with, for example heart disease, stroke, cancer, mental health issues, flu, pneumonia, head injuries, etc
  • Operations

What we do with the information

The information we collect has lots of details and we publish a number of standard analyses. You can download published data tables and analysis from our data catalogue.

The information is used to support the answering of around 300 parliamentary questions each year.

There is also a monthly publication and most months we produce a topic of interest, which focuses on an area of the HES data. This might be a disease or cause of admission to hospital, and typically presents information for two 12-month periods. You can find more information on our news pages.

There are also more detailed annual publications on:

Researchers and those who have had their application approved through our Data Access Request Service can request a set of information (an extract) from the Hospital Episodes Statistics. This is tailored to their individual request and ensures they only receive the information they need for their research study. We can also link the HES data to other data sources of health data, which can be important for a research study looking at the care and treatment of a patient where they come into contact with a number of NHS services - not just those in a hospital - and can give a researcher a fuller picture of care and treatment.

Organisations who work within the public sector with a specific interest in public health can securely access HES through tools provided by the HSCIC, which means that data do not leave our organisation but they are able to find out important information that informs their decision making. Through this tool they are able to:

  • Analyse the data,
  • Bring sets of data together (for example bringing together all the data that relates to a specific disease such as diabetes or surgical procedure such as a hip replacement. When data is brought together like this its known as aggregation),
  • Produce a range of different outputs.

Examples of different outputs from HES by other organisations

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