NHS service standard
This NHS companion to the GOV.UK service standard will help you check that you're working to best practice from the start.
The NHS service standard is designed to help teams:
- meet the GOV.UK service standard
- address the different needs of health service users
- navigate the complexities of delivering digital services in health and care
It contains the 14 points of the GOV.UK service standard, with guidance to help teams meet them in a health context, and 3 extra points specific to health and social care.
If your service is being assessed by the Government Digital Service, you must meet the first 14 points. If you work in health, we recommend trying to meet all 17 points.
The GOV.UK service standard in the context of health
Take time to understand your users' clinical, practical and emotional needs - and their abilities - and the problem you're trying to solve for them.
Think about people's entire experience and the systems and processes around the product or service you're building.
Consider where your service fits in your users' healthcare journey and whether you can solve a whole problem or influence a wider solution.
Collaborate across team, programme and organisational boundaries and create a service that meets users' needs across all channels.
Build a service that's simple to use so that people can succeed first time. Test with users to make sure it works for them.
Healthcare journeys can be complex. Do the hard work to make things simpler.
Make sure people with different physical, mental health, social, cultural or learning needs can use your service, whether it's for the public or staff.
And people who do not have access to the internet or lack the skills or confidence to use it.
Make sure you have the right - and diverse - skills and roles to build and operate the service.
Make as many decisions as possible in the team so that you can respond quickly to what you learn about users and their needs.
Make sure that the team can deliver quickly and adapt to meet users' needs.
Resource them flexibly.
Make sure you have the capacity, resources and technical flexibility to iterate and improve the service frequently.
Work with your organisation to make sure that you're able to focus on the improvements that have the most value.
Evaluate what data and information your service will be collecting, storing and providing.
Identify and address security threats, legal responsibilities, confidentiality and privacy issues and risks associated with the service. Consult experts where you need to.
Work out how your service helps improve health and well being, people's experience of health and care, and the efficiency of the health service and how you will know that you're succeeding. If you cannot measure health benefits, choose other suitable indicators.
Collect performance information across all channels so that you can measure and show that the service is effective and improving.
Choose tools and technology that let you build a good service in an efficient, cost effective way.
Build a sustainable service which allows you to change direction in future.
Make all new source code open and reusable, and publish it under appropriate licences. If you cannot do this for specific subsets of the source code, provide a convincing explanation.
Use open standards, and propose a new open standard if there is not one that already meets your needs.
People need the NHS 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Minimise service downtime and have a plan to deal with it when it does happen.
3 extra points for health and social care
Caring is the core business of the NHS. NHS services should provide a positive experience of care and they should help NHS staff provide a caring service.
All services should make patients, the public and staff feel valued and supported and, as far as possible, involve people in their own care.
Digital information, tools and services have the potential to cause patient harm.
Make sure that you actively manage any safety risks associated with your content, service and processes.
In an organisation as diverse and complex as the NHS, we need systems and services which talk to each other. Build for interoperability to share patient records and get data quickly from one place to another.
Get in touch
If you’ve got a question about the NHS digital service manual or want to feedback, get in touch.
Updated: December 2019