New Pathology Information Standards Approved

NHS Digital Receive Approval for Pathology Information Standards: ISN Published

The Pathology Team at NHS Digital are delighted to announce the approval of the Pathology Information Standards by the Data Alliance Partnership Board (DAPB). This is a positive step towards the future of pathology with an overall objective to improve patient care. It will enable Clinicians to access pathology tests and results across health and care, receiving the right information at the right time and right place, supporting improved clinical decision making and patient safety.

The Pathology Information Standards Notice and associated documents can be found here.

As part of NHS England CCIO7 workstreams, NHS Digital are delivering the ability to share pathology results across health and care.  Following The Future of Healthcare Vision and the NHS Digital standards framework response, NHS Digital were commissioned by NHSX to define Information Standards aligned with clinical, commissioning and patient needs to support the sharing of pathology tests and results across care settings and organisational boundaries.

The need to accelerate the development of a standardised universal test list for Pathology services formed part of the recommendations made by Professor Sir Mike Richards in a wider diagnostic review commissioned by NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens in October 2020.

To meet future NHS needs for interoperability and secondary care use within the Pathology domain, three inter-related specifications have been identified based on relevant component parts of international standards, namely:

Unified Test List (UTL) – a national catalogue of Pathology test requests and results to replace the Pathology Bounded Code List (PBCL), based on SNOMED CT

Units of Measure (UoM) – an unambiguous representation of commonly used units, aligned with the UTL, based on Unified Code for Units of Measure (UCUM)

Pathology Message Specification – for interoperable data exchange of Pathology information, based on Health Level 7 (HL7) Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) 

Together, as an information standard, they enable the future communication and exchange of tests, results, quantities, and units used in the Pathology domain across the NHS. The full standard is intended for use by GPs, Labs, secondary care and social care (where applicable), used in GP systems, LIMS, Order Comms, pathology middleware, & clinical research.

Pathology Standards Component Parts

The diagram below shows that the three Pathology standards are inter-related. The FHIR message consists of the SNOMED CT clinical coding describing the pathology test request or result, alongside the test result value and unit of measure describing how the value should be interpreted by the recipient.

Transfer clinical statement slide


We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the development of the Pathology Information Standards, both internally, within NHS Digital, and externally, without whose input and guidance the approval of our standards would not have been possible.  Although our contributors are too numerous to mention, we would like to give special thanks to our strategic partners as part of the wider NHS family, our Governance Boards, the PRSB, the Royal Colleges and all our stakeholders, including National User Group members, who have lent us their time and subject matter expertise.

Dr Michael Osborn BSC MBBS MRCS FRCPath

President of the Royal College of Pathologists

Consultant Histopathologist for North West London Pathology at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London

“I’d like to thank the Pathology Team at NHS Digital for their excellent work, which has culminated in the approval of the Pathology Information Standards. This is an important step towards the development of a standardised universal test list for pathology services which will benefit patients care and contribute to the promotion of pathology.”

Prof. Jo Martin, MA PhD RCPathME FIBMS(Hon) FRCPI (Hon) FRCPath

National Specialty Advisor for Pathology NHSE/I

Professor of Pathology, Queen Mary University of London

“I am really pleased with the work the Pathology Team at NHS Digital has done in helping make the vision of an interconnected system a reality.  I am excited to see the progress towards improving patient care for the future.”

Dr Laszlo Igali

Consultant Histopathologist, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

Member of the Pathology Informatics Group at the Royal College of Pathologists

Co-Chair of the Pathology Informatics National User Group

“This is a very positive step in the development of digital pathology improvements and the standardisation of digital pathology data.”

Ian Townend

Chief Architect, NHS-X

“I’d like to thank the Pathology Team for all their hard work in the development of these core standards for the pathology area.  This work closely aligns with NHSX’s top priorities around interoperability, information standards and supporting the use of new technologies. I'm looking forward to starting to see implementation across health and social care.” 

Gill Foley

Data and Clinical Content Standards Lead, NHS-X

"It's great to see the Pathology Standards have been approved by the Data Alliance Partnership Board. This standard provides the much-needed foundation for sharing pathology tests and results nationwide.”

Contact Us

The team can be contacted via email at

More information can be found at the Pathology & Diagnostics Information Standards Collaboration Space