What is Discovery?

Discovery is an ongoing collaboration between NHS boards, the Scottish Government, and Public Health Scotland.

It is an online management information system that provides approved users with access to a range of comparative healthcare information. It supports performance and quality improvement across health and social care in Scotland.

Examples of staff who can request access are employees from the following organisations:

  • Scottish Government
  • territorial and special health boards
  • local authorities
  • health and social care partnerships

Discovery is not open to members of the public, the press, academia, or researchers.

Who is Discovery intended for?

Discovery has been developed for use by a wide range of users including, but not limited to:

  • managers and directors
  • analysts
  • clinicians
  • finance staff
  • improvement staff

It provides users with comparative and benchmarking information to underpin service planning and delivery.

What data is available on Discovery?

The majority of data in Discovery is based on regular health board submissions to Public Health Scotland.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • A&E activity
  • hospital admissions
  • outpatient activity
  • waiting times
  • mental health activity
  • prescribing data
  • healthcare-associated infection surveillance (ECOSS)
  • child health systems programmes
  • Scottish Immunisation and Recall Systems (SIRS)
  • maternity activity

We also have English and Welsh peer activity for benchmarking purposes sourced from NHS England and NHS Wales.

Most dashboards in Discovery are updated monthly, based on data held in the national data warehouses, but this will depend on the topic.

What comparisons can a user make on Discovery?

Discovery dashboards have been built to allow easy benchmarking across a range of indicators and topics between:

  • health boards
  • hospitals
  • specialties
  • local authorities
  • health and social care partnerships
  • localities

Dashboards within Discovery can be viewed from a health board of treatment or health board of residence perspective.

Treatment views will allow health board and hospital comparisons across relevant peer groups.

Residence views will allow local authority and/or health and social care partnerships to compare performance and activity across relevant peer groups.

There is functionality within many Discovery dashboards for bespoke peer groups to be built by the user.

How secure is the information in Discovery?

Discovery is hosted in an NHS National Services Scotland (NHS NSS) secure data centre in accordance with NHS NSS and Public Health Scotland security policies.

Access is available at three levels.

Access levels

This is a summary of the levels of access.

More in depth information about access levels is available on request from phs.discovery@phs.scot

Level 1: non-confidential overview (strategic)

Users with this level of access can only see data at an aggregate level.

Peer comparisons are possible by:

  • board of treatment
  • residence
  • specialty

All Discovery users can see other NHS board details at this level.

Level 2: potentially disclosive (analytics)

Users with second-level access can only view information from within their own organisation.

Some regional dashboards allow users to compare activity across their region (following information governance rules).

The information at this level can be provided at an aggregated peer value.

Due to the ability to filter on variables such as specialty, age and sex, there is a potential for the data at this level to be disclosive.

Level 3: confidential

At this level data is presented in tabular form and provides confidential person identifiable information.

Access at this level can be further restricted to authorised General Medical Council codes by data sources.

Topics in Discovery

The system contains indicators aligned to a range of key topics and groups on relevant landing pages, including:

  • antimicrobial resistance and healthcare associated infection (ARHAI)
  • cancer
  • clinical profiles
  • COVID-19 remobilisation
  • elective care
  • English and Welsh peers
  • health and social care
  • maternity and child health
  • mental health
  • prescribing
  • public health related information
  • unscheduled care
  • waiting times

Indicators within Discovery can be viewed from NHSScotland board of treatment and residence perspectives.

The number and range of indicators within Discovery expands over time as a result of direct development requests from the Discovery oversight board and registered users.

Register for Discovery


If you are an employee from an eligible organisation, you can request access to Discovery through the User Access System (UAS).

The system logs the request and forwards it to the local Discovery authoriser from the requestor's organisation for authorisation.

Requests to access any of the three security levels of Discovery can only be made by users from approved organisations:

  • NHSScotland territorial health boards
  • Public Health Scotland
  • Golden Jubilee Hospital
  • special health boards – limited to non-confidential overview/level 1
  • Scottish Government – limited to non-confidential overview/level 1
  • health and social care partnerships – limited to non-confidential overview/level 1 and potentially disclosive/level 2

Renewal periods

There is a six-monthly review required for all confidential level 3 users.

All other users are renewed annually.

Existing users are required to renew their access when prompted, otherwise access will be removed.

Further information

For more about how to register, view our registration guidance.

If there are any queries regarding registering for Discovery, please contact us.

Login to Discovery

Full version of Discovery

Registered users with access to the NHS network can log in to the full version of Discovery (levels 1 to 3).

A user's access permissions will determine the level of information that they can view. Find out more about access levels.

Web version of Discovery

There is a reduced version of Discovery that all registered users can access without an NHS network connection.

This version of Discovery provides access to a wide range of non-confidential information (non-confidential overview/level 1 content only).

Support and training

Wraparound service

Discovery provides a customer-focused support service to ensure users get the most out of Discovery. 

Services provided by the wraparound service include:

  • developing and delivering focused Discovery training and user guides
  • supporting health board users to improve their understanding and use of the Discovery product
  • providing bespoke analytical service in response to user queries to complement Discovery information
  • creating customised feedback reports
  • working with health boards to inform future Discovery developments

Registered Discovery users can access a wide range of Discovery case studies from our online library.


We can provide bespoke training sessions for groups of Discovery users.

Sessions would be designed in conjunction with the users to ensure that the participants get the most out of the session.

Registered users can access our online library of comprehensive Discovery training manuals.

Online videos

Registered Discovery users can access our online library of comprehensive training videos, with associated slide packs, guides, and case studies with direct links into Discovery.

Here are some of our most popular training videos.

Discovery champions

If you would like to know more about how Discovery is being used in your own or another organisation, you can contact the relevant Discovery champion listed below.

Information champions

A Discovery information champion is typically located within the organisations information team and will be able to share how they are using Discovery to complement their local reporting.

Health Board Name Role Email
NHS Ayrshire & Arran Donna Mikolajczak Head of Performance and Insights Donna.Mikolajczak@aapct.scot.nhs.uk
NHS Borders Meriel Carter Analytical & BI Team Lead meriel.carter@borders.scot.nhs.uk
NHS Dumfries & Galloway Ananda Allan Performance and Intelligence Manager Ananda.Allan2@nhs.scot
NHS Fife Bryan Archibald Planning & Performance Manager bryan.archibald@nhs.scot
NHS Fife Torfinn Thorbjornsen Information Services Torfinn.Thorbjornsen@nhs.scot
NHS Forth Valley Charmaine Blaize Senior Information Analyst charmaine.blaize@nhs.scot
NHS Forth Valley Viv Meldrum Board Information Lead viv.meldrum@nhs.scot
Golden Jubilee National Hospital Carole Anderson Associate Director of Quality, Performance, Planning and Programmes carole.anderson@gjnh.scot.nhs.uk
NHS Grampian Pamela Lowbridge Senior Specialist Analyst - Performance & Outcomes pamela.lowbridge@grampian.nhs.scot
NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Jonathan Todd Head of Information Management Jonathan.Todd@ggc.scot.nhs.uk
NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Tricia Mullen Head of Performance Patricia.Mullen@ggc.scot.nhs.uk
Healthcare Improvement Scotland Donald Morrison Head of Data and Measurement donald.morrison@nhs.scot
NHS Highland Neil Simpson Service Planning Analyst neil.simpson4@nhs.scot
NHS Lanarkshire Awaiting Nominee
NHS Lothian Andrew Jackson Assistant Director of Healthcare planning Lothian Health - Health Intelligence & Policy Unit andrew.c.jackson@nhslothian.scot.nhs.uk
NHS Orkney Ian Coghill Senior Analyst ian.coghill@nhs.scot
Scottish Government Anita Morrison Deputy Director ,Analytical Services Division | Health Finance, eHealth and Analytics anita.morrison@scotland.gsi.gov.uk
Scottish Government Nicola Edge Deputy Director Analytical Services Divison | Health Finance, eHealth and Analytics nicola.edge@scotland.gsi.gov.uk
NHS Shetland Awaiting Nominee
NHS Tayside Jenni Woods Health and Business Intelligence Team Lead jennifer.woods@nhs.scot
NHS Western Isles Martin Malcolm Head of Public Health Intelligence & Information Services Martin.Malcolm2@nhs.scot

Clinical champions

A Discovery clinical information champion is typically a clinician with an interest in data and information. They are able to share how they have used or are using Discovery to support clinical service review.

Health Board Name Role email
NHS Ayrshire & Arran Manuel Mahanth Associate Medical Director Mahanth.Manuel@aapct.scot.nhs.uk
NHS Borders Awaiting nominee
NHS Dumfries and Galloway Ewan Bell Associate Medical Director ewan.bell@nhs.scot
NHS Dumfries and Galloway Dr Ken Donaldson Deputy Medical Director for Acute Services kenneth.donaldson2@nhs.scot
NHS Fife Rob Cargill Associate Medical Director robert.cargill@nhs.scot
NHS Fife Chris McKenna Consultant Physician christopher.mckenna@nhs.scot
NHS Forth Valley Awaiting nominee
NHS GG&C Iain Keith Consultant Physician Iain.Keith@ggc.scot.nhs.uk
NHS GG&C Andrew Winter Consultant Andrew.Winter@ggc.scot.nhs.uk
NHS Grampian Paul Bachoo Consultant paul.bachoo@nhs.scot
NHS Grampian Steve Baguley Clinical eHealth lead and consultant in GUM steve.baguley2@nhs.scot
NHS Highland Awaiting nominee
NHS Lanarkshire Awaiting nominee
NHS Orkney Awaiting nominee
NHS Tayside Shobhan Thakore Realistic Medicine Clinical Lead Shobhan.Thakore2@nhs.scot


Help registering for Discovery

Email our Discovery helpdesk at phs.discovery@phs.scot

Help using Discovery

Email our Discovery helpdesk at phs.discovery@phs.scot

Technical support with UAS

If you are having Discovery access issues via the UAS, contact the PHS Product Support team at phs.shis@phs.scot

The helpdesk operates:

  • Monday to Thursday, 9am to 4.30pm
  • Friday, 9am to 3.30pm

The helpdesk is not available on public holidays.

Last updated: 09 February 2023
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