NHS service standard - 8. Iterate and improve frequently

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.

Why it's important

Services are never "finished". Once you have got real people using your service, you need to iterate and improve it throughout its lifetime.

That means more than doing basic maintenance, like fixing bugs in code or deploying security patches. It means responding to feedback and changes in user needs and behaviour, clinical evidence and practice, technology and policy.

Iteration is not just for the early stages of a service's development. Running a live service does not have to mean a full team working on the service 100% of the time during the live phase. But it does mean being able to make substantial improvements throughout the lifetime of the service.

AI (artificial intelligence) and digital healthcare technologies

If you're developing or adopting AI or digital healthcare technologies in health, it's important to monitor and update them. This is because their safety and effectiveness can reduce over time. Use the AI and Digital Regulations Service website to learn what regulations to follow and how to evaluate effectiveness.

If you're developing or adopting a medical device, make sure the device is still compliant if your service changes.

What you should do

Your team should be able to show that you:

  • continue to research and respond to feedback, data and metrics and the changing context within which you work
  • have a process for reviewing all content and checking that it is up to date and reflects the latest clinical evidence, or is retired
  • understand where your priorities lie and which improvements will deliver the most value
  • have an appropriate level of resource to continue to improve the live service


GOV.UK resources

Read more about this

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: January 2024