Protecting the public purse

National Benchmarker and assurance portal

The National Benchmarker is a powerful online tool that compares acute hospital activity data, clinical coding and Payment by Results (PbR) related measures with other organisations.

It can be used to inform many areas of work: efficiency and productivity, contracting, information, service redesign, quality accounts and data quality in general.

It is the only independent and comprehensive data quality programme within the NHS.

The National Benchmarker also provides access to a report library containing benchmarking and audit reports relevant to your trust(s), and a set of analysis profiles for trusts, PCTs and SHAs.

Existing users can log in to the National Benchmarker now.

New users will need to complete and submit a form:Payments by Results access request form (details of where to submit the form are included in the document).

If you would like to talk to somebody about how the tool can benefit your organisation please email

About the National Benchmarker

The National Benchmarker is freely available to all NHS organisations in the country. It provides detailed analysis of hospital data to allow local health economies to compare themselves against an expected level of activity based on the type of patients they have (known as a benchmark).

It is easy to use and provides access to detailed analysis in a simple format suitable for all staff types. Analysts, managers and clinicians have all benefited from using the National Benchmarker.

Payment by Results

The tool has a unique focus on Payments by Results (PbR), with analysis that covers all aspects of PbR updated in line with PbR rules:

  • Admitted patient care
  • Outpatients
  • Accident and emergency
  • Reference costs
  • Independent sector provider NHS activity


It contains over 60 indicators from general tests to focused data quality indicators, and includes:

  • mean price of spell
  • mean length of spell
  • zero length spell ratio
  • complication spell ratio
  • follow up ratio
  • mean pre-op period of elective spell
  • multiple same-day outpatient attendance ratio
  • mean diagnoses per spell
  • post OPCS-4.3 procedure ratio
  • trust cancellation ratio

Volume analysis

We recently released our new volume analysis, which identifies exceptionally high or low volumes of hospital activity, and estimates the financial impact of this over or under performance. Whilst extreme outliers are often caused by clear data quality issues, this tool also provides intelligence to support commissioning decisions around potential over or under-provision of care.

Reference costs tools

The National Benchmarker also contains three separate reference costs tools which contain the analysis used to support the Audit Commission’s review of 2009/10 reference costs submissions. These tools are:

  • Cost variance tool – looks at differences between reported and expected unit costs for each treatment area
  • Activity reconciliation tool – compares activity data submitted in reference costs to activity reported in Hospital Episode Statistics (HES)
  • Activity share tool – looks at whether a trust is undertaking its expected share of activity for its size

If you would like to talk to somebody about how the tool can benefit your organisation please email

Help and assistance

The following resources are available to help you get the most out of the National Benchmarker:

  • Tutorial video – a complete training session in how to use the tool and how to draw judgements from the analysis
  • User guide – a companion document to the tutorial video which outlines the National Benchmarker’s functionality
  • Release notes – a brief document outlining the changes incorporated in recent release and caveats around the retrospective nature of some of our analysis

Case studies

Case studies are available on our archived site.

Joint working

We are indebted to the the NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care (external link) who were instrumental in working with us to develop our benchmarking methodology, and providing support to what is the first comprehensive programme of national benchmarking using data from the Secondary Uses Service (SUS).