NHS service standard - 14. Operate a reliable service

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.

Why it's important

The public, patients and staff need to access NHS services throughout the day and night. If a service is unavailable or slow, it can mean people do not get the help they need.

What you should do

Your team should be able to show that you:

  • maximise uptime and speed of response for the online part of the service
  • deploy software changes regularly, without significant downtime
  • carry out quality assurance testing regularly
  • test the service in an environment that's as similar to live as possible
  • have appropriate monitoring in place, together with a proportionate, sustainable plan to respond to problems identified by monitoring (given the impact of problems on users and on the NHS)
  • actively work towards fixing any organisational or contractual issues which make it difficult to maximise availability (for example, by agreeing a common set of languages, tools, and ways of working for technical staff)


GOV.UK resources

Help us improve this guidance

Share insights or feedback and take part in the discussion. We use GitHub as a collaboration space. All the information on it is open to the public.

If you've gone through a service assessment or peer review, we're especially interested to hear from you.

Read more about how to feedback or share insights.

If you have any questions, get in touch with the service manual team.

Updated: December 2019