Approved Costing Guidance


The Approved Costing Guidance forms a co-ordinated approach to patient-level costing (PLICS), the reference costs collection and the reference costs assurance programme.

Why is costing important?

Ben Dyson, Executive Director of Strategy at NHS Improvement, explains why patient-level costing is at the heart of work to successfully integrate healthcare services.

On the release of the 2018 Approved Costing Guidance in February 2018, Bob Alexander (former Director of Resources, NHS Improvement) gives his views on why costing is important for NHS organisations.

Update - 2019 cost collections

Following consultations with NHS providers, suppliers and arm’s length bodies, we have taken a number of decisions regarding the implementation of patient-level costing (PLICS) and cost collections for 2019 and beyond. This note provides information on decisions made for the following areas:

  • 2019 cost collection scope
  • 2019 cost collection timetable
  • Education & training
  • Release of key documents

2019 cost collections update PDF, 402.7 KB

Note of decisions about the 2019 cost collections

Approved Costing Guidance 2018

The Approved Costing Guidance 2018 – what you need to know and what you need to do PDF, 897.0 KB

Outlines how to comply with the guidance, cost collections for 2017/18 data, oversight and the provider licence and the costing assurance programme.

The costing principles PDF, 758.3 KB

Outlines the seven costing principles that all costing activity should follow.

Approved Costing Guidance: Glossary PDF, 494.7 KB

Describes the terminology used throughout the Approved Costing Guidance.

What is the Approved Costing Guidance?

The Approved Costing Guidance comprises:

The guidance also provides the framework on which the costing assurance programme will be based.

Reference costs are mandatory for all providers of NHS services.  Following consultation, the patient-level cost collection will be mandatory for designated acute providers for the 2018/19 submission. We are also working to extend patient-level costing to mental health, ambulance and community providers.

We are considering our approach to independent sector providers of NHS activity but will not be collecting cost data from them in 2018.  If you have any questions, please contact 


Costing enquiry log XLSX, 1.6 MB

Regularly updated list of costing enquiries and our responses, along with a summary of frequently asked questions.

Other resources

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