NHS service standard - About the NHS service standard

The NHS service standard is designed to help teams meet the GOV.UK service standard in the context of health and care.

NHS services and the GOV.UK service standard

Some NHS services go through a service assessment.

GOV.UK assesses services which have over 100,000 transactions a year. NHSX assesses some NHS services which have less than 100,000 transactions a year.

Teams which have an assessment have to meet all 14 points in the GOV.UK service standard. Other NHS teams follow the GOV.UK service standard because it's best practice.

Why publish an NHS companion to the GOV.UK service standard?

This NHS companion follows the GOV.UK standard point by point, but in our user research, we found that NHS digital teams also need:

The NHS service standard and the guidance in the NHS digital service manual are designed to help teams build and run services that improve health outcomes, people's experience of health and care, and the efficiency of the health service. They are informed by and support the NHS Constitution (GOV.UK).

What is different about the NHS?

There is a lot that is the same across Government and the NHS but this guidance also takes account of what's different in health.

For example:

  • health "journeys" are more fragmented and multi-layered than many government services
  • digital services in the NHS are much more likely to need to support face to face contact
  • multi-disciplinary teams are less common in the NHS - by "multi-disciplinary" we mean teams made up of product and delivery managers, designers, developers, user researchers and content designers
  • NHS delivery teams are less experienced in user-centred design and agile service delivery
  • measuring outcomes is often more complex for health
  • more products and services are commissioned locally, for example in hospital trusts, and they are more likely to rely on suppliers, long-term contracts and "off the shelf" solutions

In our user research, we saw evidence of the power of the NHS logo to unify teams, make the GOV.UK standard relevant and encourage people to work to it.

Our user research also showed that it helped digital teams working in health to deal with points 2 and 3 together. (They are separate points in the GOV.UK service standard.)

We're very interested in hearing what you think about the NHS service standard as a companion to the GOV.UK service standard and how it might, or might not, help you develop digital services in health.

Email us or get in touch on the service manual Slack channel.

Updated: April 2023