The NHS Postcode Directory is maintained, on behalf of the Department of Health, by the Office for National Statistics. It contains a record for every POSTCODE in the UK, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, and associates each POSTCODE with a variety of geographic information, including grid references, Primary Care Trusts and Care Trusts (England), Local Health Boards (Wales), Community Health Partnerships (Scotland) and Strategic Health Authority codes. The file also includes pseudo POSTCODES covering defaults and overseas countries.
The full and reduced versions of the NHS Postcode Directory are issued every quarter by the Organisation Data Service. Named recipients both inside the NHS and other recipients licensed to use this data in support of the NHS are able to access it through the online distribution service, Technology Reference Data Update Distribution Service (TRUD) and through the Organisation Data Service pages on NHSnet; see Contact Details.
- A full description of the NHS Postcode Directory and the Organisation Data Service reduced POSTCODE data files, can be found at ODS Postcode Files.
The same descriptions can also be accessed via the Technology Reference Data Update Distribution Service (TRUD).
- The Office for National Statistics will supply, on request and at a cost, copies of the NHS Postcode Directory, on different media, in different formats and for selected extracts. Contact the Office for National Statistics for details and charges; see Contact Details.
All POSTCODES made available via the Organisation Data Service postcode files have been standardised to the eight character postcode format as used by the Royal Mail's Postal Address File (PAF). All NHS ORGANISATIONS should ensure that they conform to the POSTCODE format.POSTCODES are of the general format:
Character Position 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Format a a/n a/n a/n space n a a Coding Frame Outward Code space Inward Code
- The coding frame allows the use of digits 0 (zero) to 9 and the use of upper-case alpha characters; no special characters are allowed.
- The fifth character of all standard format POSTCODES is always a space, and separates the outward and inward parts of the POSTCODE. The outward part of the POSTCODE is left-justified and can contain 2, 3 or 4 characters, and is space-filled in character positions 3 and 4 where required. The inward part of the POSTCODE is always 3 characters.
The following table gives examples of typical POSTCODES:
Character Position Allocated by Notes
W 9 3 X X Royal Mail D A 1 5 P L Royal Mail M K 4 5 1 T E Royal Mail Z Z 9 9 4 L Z ODS POSTCODES for PATIENTS who are Overseas Visitors Z Z 9 9 3 W Z ODS Pseudo POSTCODES
The Office for National Statistics produce a version of the NHS Postcode Directory that is based on a stable area base to facilitate time series analysis - the 1991-based Frozen Postcode Directory. This is available from the Office for National Statistics.
The Organisation Data Service issues the two supporting publications which are updated for and included with each quarterly publication of the postcode directories. This ensures that any new customers receive the necessary information. The "NHSPD User Guide" contains a description of the NHS Postcode Directory and its content along with information about the methodologies used, data quality and limitations. The "NHS PD Version Notes" contains a range of summary statistics and highlights important issues that may affect customers. Electronic copies are provided through the online distribution service Technology Reference Data Update Distribution Service (TRUD) and through the Organisation Data Service pages on NHSnet each quarter, see Contact Details.