What are nationwide service specifications and what are they used for?

These nationwide service specifications date back prior to July 2022 when district health boards were absorbed into one organisation, Te Whatu Ora.

These documents remain relevant as a mechanism for clarifying service coverage until they are replaced, they will be updated here.

Nationwide service specifications describe a level of operational detail for national consistency and to clarify the national service coverage minimum service requirements.

Not all health services are covered by a nationwide service specification.

Nationwide service specifications have been jointly agreed between the Ministry of Health and the former district health boards, and reviewed and updated as needed.

The purpose of a nationwide service specification is to provide national consistency in the use of standard documentation that supports efficiency, service delivery, analysis, and service performance monitoring. It should:

  • clarify the services to be funded/provided and list the purchase unit codes used for the service
  • provide standard minimum reporting requirements to support service performance reporting, analysis and planning
  • ensure a common understanding of the components of services and linkages between them and other services
  • ensure service specific requirements are applied consistently throughout the sector
  • allow for auditing of the services as needed
  • ensure the service quality requirements are consistent.

Nationwide Service Specifications were published with either a Mandatory or Recommended status as a guide to the level of flexibility to amend the documents to fit local agreement needs. 

Mandatory status was assigned for the purposes of national consistency, usually for reporting information, counting activity and quality requirements.

The status of these service specifications will be reviewed over time and as commissioning needs arise.


How are service specifications structured?

A tier structure is often used for service specifications to avoid repetition of content and elements that are common to a range or group of services.

The tier structure should support the funder and provider's understanding of the total description of the service to be delivered and provide  flexibility to allow for a funder to add additional provider quality specifications or reporting requirements to an agreement with a provider.

Nationwide Service Specifications use a 3-tiered structure. Each tier describes the service at a different level of detail.

  • Tier 1 are overarching service specifications that contains generic principles and content common to all the tiered specifications below it. (May also contain service guidelines in the appendices for services without service specifications).
  • Tier 2 includes the elements specific to that particular service and includes a reference to its generic overarching document so that the total service requirements are explicit.
  • Tier 3 are more detailed specific service descriptions for specific services.