FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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Full details of the changes to Health & Social Care Organisation Reference Data can be found in the published Information Standards Notice (SCCI 0090). A list of Frequently Asked Questions is provided below for ease of reference. Please also take a look at the 'How To Guides' which can be accessed from the homepage.

 

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 Why are the codes changing?

Significant changes are being made to the way the codes are issues and published. The way we publish codes has hardly changed for 20 years - we need to bring it into the 21st Century to keep up with the demands of the NHS. In addition there are several known issues with the current approach that must be urgently addressed. We are making changes for 3 main reasons:

  • The structure of the codes we use means that we are running out of available codes to use and the number of remaining codes will drop below acceptable limits some time in 2018;
  • The specification of the files we publish is not flexible enough to cope with the change within the NHS;
  • There is a lack of standardisation in format and frequency in publication.

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What are the changes being made?

There are 5 aspects to the changes we will be making:

  • Identifier Structure (change from multiple format code-frames indicating organisation type, to single uniform structure of ANANA with no implied meaning)
  • Organisation Roles (new meta-data giving unambiguous indication of organisations’ type)
  • Named Relationships (new meta-data indicating nature of the link between two organisation entities)
  • Release Formats (move from legacy flat-file CSV format to XML)
  • Release Mechanism (from complex multiple-file releases to simplified single XML file, complimented by API service)

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 What is the problem with the current approach?

The structure of the codes used means that the number of available codes is running out. The number of remaining codes will drop below acceptable limits at some time in 2018. A good analogy for this situation is when BT phone numbers were running out and the numbers system had to change in order to create new numbers.

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Can you give an example of what the new codes will look like?

The new codes will be 5 characters in length, with an alternating alphabetic-numeric structure i.e. ANANA (where ‘A’ represents and alphabetic character, and ‘N’ represents a numeric character). For example: A1B2C.

This change means that codes will cease to have a structure with ‘inbuilt intelligence’; currently, a combination of certain fixed characters and the overall length of a code can be used to determine the type of organisation it identifies. This is referred to as a ‘Code Frame’ – see the NHS Data Model and Dictionary for more information. Following 1 April 2020, codes will be randomly allocated within the ANANA structure to all new organisations, regardless of the type of organisation.

Note: No ODS codes issued before 1 April 2020 will be replaced.

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Will I need training to use the new interface?

This is entirely dependent on how the codes are used.

Anyone that administers an information system or business process that makes use of the codes will need to be aware of the new approach, and prepared to make any changes that might be necessary in order to allow them to continue to use organisation codes.

Where changes are required to systems or processes, it is possible that training may be required for users. The owner of the system or process will need to identify this need and deliver their own training, although ODS are happy to provide guidance in this regard.

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Being able to capture multiple relationships and have the relationship type specified is going to increase the richness of the data. Where will this data come from?

Information may be sourced from various places; many relationships will simply be geographically derived using postcode or similar, whilst others might be sourced from a third-party as a by-product of business processes elsewhere in the NHS. The reliability, accuracy and quality of all data released in the organisation interface are of paramount importance. Any source for relationship or any other kind of data must be proven to be reliable in the long-term, and this will have to be evidenced to the relevant Information Standards authority prior to inclusion of the data in the live release products.

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Will the existing organisation codes for existing organisations be maintained?

Yes. No legacy identifiers will be recoded at any point. Instead, existing identifiers will simply persist indefinitely until naturally closed; only new codes allocated on or after 1 April 2020 will have the new structure. This will mean users will not be required to replace any in-use identifiers thereby reducing costs and impacts.

This does not affect the implementation of unstructured codes; from the 1 April 2020 it can no longer be assumed that identifiers will have intelligence in the identifier and all codes should be treated accordingly.

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What is the scope of Organisation Reference Data that will be included in XML?

For XML inclusion, please refer to the Product Scope Timetable published here. Any update to forecasted inclusion dates will be added to this timetable with each release.

Please note that Healthcare Professionals data, Geographical Products and Default Codes are entirely out of scope for XML at present. New fundamental information standards will be developed to govern these products in the near future. Users can subscribe to the ODS Newsletter for notices regarding changes, additions and / or development of these products. These were set out of scope within the approved ISN (SCCI0090) for the simple reason that they are not straightforward Organisation Reference Data. SCCI0090 governs reference data about the Organisation (HSCOrg) that comprise health and social care services, and the Sites they provide services from (HSCSite).

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Are there any recommendations on how to migrate from the legacy CSV files to the new XML structure?

The suggested approach is to map the data into a staging database; we have provided an open source tool to do this available here. Please see the XML to CSV XSLT How To Guide for further information.

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Why can't I use DOM to Parse the XML?

If users are unable to use the support tools provided by ODS then they will need to make sure that any XML parsing library adopted is based on SAX rather than DOM, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simple_API_for_XML. SAX chunks through the XML file and has much lower RAM utilisation - the Java library requires around 1.3GB RAM available for the processing and completes in a couple of minutes. The DOM approach will not work as it attempts to read the whole XML file into memory as an XML structure and the file is too large for that.

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Last modified by Laura Reeves 1 year ago