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Explore and Make use of Nationally Defined Messaging APIs


Introduction to NRL FHIR® API

A brief introduction to getting started with the NRL FHIR® API.


Welcome to the National Record Locator Technical Specification landing page. This site will continue to be updated as we receive feedback, which we welcome from all within the clinical and non-clinical community. To discuss any questions or queries you may have with the NRL team, feel free to email us on Thank you for your time!


There is currently no national solution for locating and sharing patient records across health and care systems. The National Record Locator (NRL) will enable an authorised clinician, care worker and/or administrator, in any health or care setting, to access a patient’s information to support that patient’s direct care. In turn, NRL will empower professionals, patients and communities, strengthen primary, secondary and acute care and introduce system efficiencies. This new national capability will aim to complement local digital initiatives (including Shared Care Records) and enhance the level of digital maturity across Health and Care. Phase 1 aims to demonstrate this capability, testing the concept of cross border interoperability and crucially enabling the power of local Shared Care Records (where they exist) to become woven into the NRL fabric from the outset. NHS Digital intends for the NRL to be accessible to all localities in 2019, opening up the possibility of achieving the ‘holy grail of interoperability’ in the months and years that follow. The NHS England Target Architecture also states that platforms moving forward will be expected to use common national services, standards and governance processes to ensure national cohesion, including the NRL. More information can be found here:.

In 2016, NHS Digital concluded a proof of concept project to test the implementation challenges of the NRL and to measure its potential service impact and benefits. A decision was made to continue with the development of the NRL in four key regions across the NHS identified for their digital maturity as outlined below. Working initially with urgent and emergency care, the NRL will enable cross border, cross organisation and cross sector interoperability. Our plan therefore is to integrate with:

  • North West, North East, Yorkshire and London Ambulance Services and Mental Health Trusts
  • The Lancashire Patient Record Exchange Service
  • Cheshire Care Record

Proving the success of such integrations in Phase 1 will allow all records held within local shared records to be accessible via NRL in Phase 2 and beyond.


Phase One – Alpha / Beta (Live November 2018)

  • 4 Ambulance Trusts
  • 5 Mental Health Trusts
  • Connection to Shared Care Record initiatives in Lancashire and Cheshire
  • Summary Care Record application (SCRa) as a national portal for accessing NRL
  • Access to pointers to Mental Health Crisis Plans
  • Sharing contact details for Mental Health Crisis Teams
  • Providing cross-border interoperability

Phase Two – NHS Implementation

  • Secured retrieval of records and documents
  • Existing Mental Health Trusts to publish more pointers
  • Existing Ambulance Services to increase use of NRL
  • Onboarding new Ambulance Trusts
  • Onboarding new Mental Health Trusts
  • Working in partnership with Local Health Care Record Exemplars (LHCRE)
  • Integration with NHS Identity, enabling biometric authentication
  • Direct integration with Ambulance systems
  • An IG model to support national sharing
  • Pointers published for Healthy Child records
  • Pointers published for Maternity records
Tags: overview

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