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Introduction to NHS Identity

A brief introduction to NHS Identity.

The diagram below shows an overview of the NHS IdentityService.

CAS Overview Diagram

A digital identity is the online persona of a subject. For NHS Identity this refers to the national identity for health and social care workers.

A digital identity that is provided by a separate cloud service is a powerful mechanism as it can be consumed many times from a single logon. It can also be linked with every day devices to provide extra contextual information about that user (e.g. location, nearby services) and it can profile the characteristics of the owner(usual times of sign-on, services normally used, location, devices linked to the user).

Adoption of such a cloud service from a nationally trusted provider such as NHS Digital facilitates cross organisational access without the need for costly middleware components that can tie one organisation to another. It also caters for scale and simplifies management with one central service to store authentication and access rules.

The primary objectives of this NHS Identity service is to provide:

  • A sufficient level of assurance that the user is who they say they are for the sensitivity of digital information they are accessing
  • A trusted secure token representing the users national digital identity in an industry recognised format
  • A sign-on process that is as frictionless for the user as possible. Aligning to their working patterns and only asking for additional action when necessary. A single sign-on is the target
  • Support for all IT platforms and devices whether that be a PC, laptop, tablet, phone or wearable
  • Interaction with the service from any UK based location (N3 not required)
  • To be available 24x7, 365 days a year
  • To abstract identity & access into a cloud service that can be easily consumed by many client applications and services no matter what language they are written in and to shield those clients from any changes that happen in that service
  • Protection for national services ensuring the requestor has legitimate rights to the resources requested.

All content is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0, except where otherwise stated