Introduction to Capabilities and Standards

What are Capabilities?

The requirements to deliver General Practice Solutions are grouped into Capabilities. Each Capability describes a business need at the highest level. For example, 'Recording Consultations' describes the need for General Practice staff to be able to make a digital record of any consultation with a patient. The introduction of Capabilities for GP IT is intended to allow suppliers to innovate by being less prescriptive and to segment the requirements in a way to allow more flexibility and choice for buyers.

Capabilities will be used by:

  • NHS Digital to express the business needs during the procurement
  • NHS Digital for the initial assessment of Solutions for onboarding to the Buying Catalogue
  • Suppliers to categorise their products and to see market opportunities
  • Buyers to search for products that meet their needs on the Buying Catalogue

What are Standards?

Standards describe the technical or operating conditions required to achieve Catalogue Compliance.

Standards will be used by:

  • NHS Digital to express the business needs at the most granular level when needed
  • Suppliers to understand what is expected of them in order to be compliant and to onboard onto the Buying Catalogue
  • NHS Digital Solution Assurance to assess Supplier Solutions against in order to award compliance
  • Buyers to assess various Suppliers against each other (levels of compliance / functionality) for competitive procurements.

Capabilities and Standards Model

The Capabilities and Standards are structured in the model below.

  • There are a set of Overarching Standards that are applicable to all supplier Solutions e.g. Information Governance
  • There are Capabilities to support business continuity from GPSoC and new Capabilities to support new ways of working
  • There are Capability Specific Standards which sit under a Capability (e.g. Prescribing)
  • There are Context Specific Standards that only apply to certain Capabilities or in certain situations (e.g. Common Reporting)
  • There is also an Interoperability Standard which contains elements specific to all and discreet Capabilities

Interactive Capabilities and Standards Map

For an Interactive Capability and Standards Map showing all connections between the GP IT Futures Capabilities and Standards, click here.

Does a supplier have to provide a solution that delivers all Capabilities?

Suppliers do not have to provide a Solution that delivers all Capabilities and are free to design and build Solutions that meet one or more of the Capabilities. By looking at the Capabilities, Suppliers can see where their product portfolio fits, either by making tweaks to existing Solutions where required or building new Solutions to expand the Capabilities that they provide for. For example, Supplier 'A' may build a Solution that delivers 'Document Management', 'Workflow' and 'Patient Information Maintenance' Capabilities, whereas Supplier 'B' may choose to build a Solution that delivers all the Citizen Capabilities.

A set of Foundation Capabilities have been identified which will be the access point for GMS funding. These are a subset of the wider set of Capabilities mandated in the NHS England GP IT Operating Model.  The Foundation Capabilities are clearly identified on the Capabilities and Standards Model.  Suppliers do not have to supply any of the Foundation Capabilities and can choose to provide one or more.  Buyers will have to take all of the Foundation Capabilities in order to access central funding.

How is a Capability Structured?

Each Capability will have a title, description, outcomes, epics and acceptance criteria and then some or all of the other elements to give more detail as necessary. This section describes the structure of a Capability and the detail within it.

Model showing how a Capability is structured

Capabilities and Standards will be structured to have the following:

IDEach Capability and Standard has a unique identifier composed of one letter followed by a number. The letter "C" indicates a Capability and an "S" indicates a Standard. The number is arbitrary and does not have any additional meaning such as priority, sequence or inter-relationships. This allows for the identification of Capabilities and standards in a consistent manner.
VersionEach Capability and Standard has a version number. Each Capability and Standard can change independently and its version number will change accordingly. Version numbers are subject to change depending on the nature of the change (e.g. major, minor, patch). There is no relationship between the version numbers of different Capabilities and Standards.

Categorises as a Capability or a Standard and, where applicable defines the type of Standard:

  • Capability Specific Standard
  • Context Specific Standard
  • Overarching Standard

Each Capability and Standard will have one of five statuses:

  • Draft
  • Published 
  • Effective
  • Deprecated
  • Retired
Effective Date

Those Standards that are mandated under the Catalogue Agreement will have an Effective Date by which suppliers must comply with the Standard.  

Suppliers will need to have achieved compliance against all Effective Standards (see Status above) in order to onboard on to the Catalogue and be awarded a place on the first GP IT Futures Framework

Standards will also have the following:

Requirement IDEach requirement within a Standard will have a unique ID so it can be recognised during compliance
Requirement TextThe description of each requirement within a Standard that will be used to determine compliance of a Solution with the Standard
Requirement LevelEach requirement within a Standard  will have a level as defined in RFC 2119.1, the Change Management and Roadmap Content ancillary document and the Master Glossary
Epic Mapping

Each requirement within a Standard will be mapped to one or more Epics (Capability Specific Standards only)

Capability description

A concise description of the purpose of the Capability.


This describes the main users of the Capability and the outcomes they want to achieve from using the Solution.

Epics and Acceptance Criteria

These describe the requirements of the Capability at a high level and will be used to assess the suitability of Solutions from suppliers at the Capabilities Assessment stage of onboarding. In order to pass any Epic, all associated Acceptance Criteria for that Epic must pass the assessment.

Must Epics will always be assessed.

All May Epics and Acceptance Criteria will be evaluated during the Capability Assessment Stage of On-boarding. However, these Epics are not mandatory and will not be used as part of the overall assessment of whether the Capability is fully met. Any May Epics that are assessed as met will be available to buyers via the Buying Catalogue.

For each Capability, it will state on Confluence whether they are only to be offered as a Full Capability or whether they can be offered as either a Full or Partial Capability.

  • If the Capability is identified as a Capability that can only be offered as a Full Capability, all Must Epics must be passed for that Capability to be accepted. These types of Capabilities can only ever be Full Capabilities; they will not be accepted as Partial Capabilities.
  • If the Capability is identified as a Capability that can either be offered as Full or Partial Capability, at least one Must Epic must be passed for that Capability to be accepted. If all Must Epics of this type of Capability are accepted the Capability will be accepted as a Full Capability; if at least one but not all Must Epics are accepted the Capability will be accepted as a Partial Capability.

Each Epic has a unique identifier composed of the associated Capability ID followed by the letter “E” and a further number, for example, C1E1. C1E2 etc. This allows for the identification of Epics in a consistent manner.

Overarching Standards

Standards which apply to all Suppliers irrespective of the Capabilities their Solutions support.

Suppliers will be assured against Overarching Standards.

Associated Standards

Where present, Associated Standards will have to be fulfilled in addition to the Overarching Standards to deliver the Capability.

Capabilities can have the following Associated Standards:

  • Context Specific Standards which include:
    • Common Reporting Standard
    • Management Information Reporting
    • Citizen Access Standard
  • Interoperability Standard(s)
  • Capability Specific Standards, which are only applicable to Supplier Solutions delivering a particular Capability

With regards to the terminology, it is acknowledged that there are formal publishing Standards bodies like ISO, PRSB and NHS Digital. Where possible we will always refer out to existing national and international Standards, but as a Programme will be using the word Standard(s) to refer more broadly to a collection of requirements that ensure a level of safety, security, quality and interoperability that Suppliers will be mandated to comply with in order to maintain compliance with the Catalogue Agreement.  

We will stay closely aligned to the Standards publishing bodies and flag the development of new Standards via the Roadmap.

Supplier Solutions will be assured against all requirements in these associated Standards.

If the Capability being assessed is identified as a 'Discretionary Capability' then a subset of the 'MUST' Level requirements in the Capability Specific Standards which are provided by the Supplier may be assessed as suitable to provide the Capability.


Summarises future changes and opportunities for Suppliers in relation to the Capability or Standard. These are linked to the individual Roadmap pages which provide further information on the Roadmap item.

How will buyers know which Capabilities a solution delivers?

Supplier Solutions will be assessed against Capabilities, and assured against all associated Standards, that their Solutions deliver. Once assured this will be visible to buyers on the Buying Catalogue from where it can be purchased.

How does Reporting fit into the new model?

A new Reporting model has been introduced to ensure individual reporting requirements are delivered by the most appropriate Suppliers/Solutions and to allow for the inclusion of specialist reporting Solutions through the introduction of a new Reporting Capability.

Who do I contact for any queries with Capabilities/Standards?

For queries please contact us at