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Out of Area Placements (OAPs)

The OAPs data collection opened on Monday 17 October 2016. NHS Digital has developed this to capture details of Out of Area Placements in mental health services. The collection is expected to capture the details of all Out of Area Placements in England from both NHS and independent providers. The Department of Health has directed NHS Digital to carry out this work. NHS Digital work with the Department of Health to manage the data submissions and publish the information submitted.

What are OAPs?

Read the full definition here

The term "Out of Area Placement" (OAP) replaces the term Out of Area Treatment (OAT). Out of Area Treatment is a retired term in NHS Data Model & Dictionary, as it is associated with non-contract activity. Out of Area Placements are also referred to as Out of Area Admissions in NICE guidance.

Why was the OAPs collection developed?

The Government has set a national ambition to eliminate inappropriate OAPs in mental health services for adults in acute inpatient care by 2020-21. It is essential to introduce a collection of OAPs in order to understand whether progress is being made on the ambition and to understand where and why OAPs are happening. It is essential that this data is collected if we are to improve patient care and ultimately eliminate the practice of inappropriately sending patients out of area to receive acute inpatient care.

The Department of Health has directed NHS Digital to carry out this work. The Directions letter sets out the Acts and Regulations invoked in the Direction:

Who should submit data to the OAPs collection?

Mental Health Foundation Trusts, Mental Health Non Foundation Trusts and Independent Sector providers who send adults out of area for acute inpatient care should submit data to the collection. Private patients seen in an NHS healthcare setting should be included.

How will NHS and independent providers submit data to the collection?

Data will be submitted by providers using the NHS Digital secure online Clinical Audit Platform (CAP).

The Clinical Audit Platform is an application hosted and supported by NHS Digital. It is a secure, web based platform that will be used for the collection of OAPs data. Users who are registered to the OAPs collection will be able to access CAP over an internet browser. It is on this platform that they will be able to enter and submit OAPs data.

It is up to each provider to decide who in their organisation will collect and submit the patient information onto the Clinical Audit Platform. There can be more than one user per organisation.

The person(s) identified to submit data will need to register to use CAP by creating a 'Single Sign On Account' and completing the 'user registration form', available on the right hand side of this page. 

Details of monthly submission dates are in the 'OAPs Data Submission Timetable' in the 'Provider Documents' on the right hand side of this webpage.


NHS Digital will publish monthly reports based on monthly extractions from the data collection system. These will be published as an official statistic on the NHS Digital website.

These reports are used to help the NHS to improve patient care, experience and outcomes. NHS Digital does not publish anything that could identify a patient. Publications will use aggregated or grouped data. Small numbers will be replaced with an asterisk *. Data shared within the NHS will be anonymised.

Help and Support

Local processes should be developed to submit any data. Documents that provide information and support are  available on the right hand side of this page.

The following documents are provided on the right hand side of this webpage:

Provider Documents

  • OAPS User Registration Form - complete and submit to request access for a member of staff to upload your monthly OAPs data.
  • OAPs Data Item Specification - Excel spreadsheet listing all data items, their types, help text, and picklist variables.
  • OAPs: General FAQs - to help answer any general questions about the collection.
  • OAPs: Scope and definitions FAQs - to help you decide whether your organisation is in scope to submit data for this collection; and if so, what type of placements should be submitted.
  • OAPs: Data entry FAQs - to help you with any data entry or submission queries.
  • Data Recording Form - an optional paper form to help you record details of a month's placements before you enter and submit them at the start of the new month.
  • Operational Guidance - screenshots and steps to help you submit your data using the CAP online system.
  • OAPs Data Submission Timetable - cut-off dates for submitting monthly data, dates when the corresponding reports will be published. October 2016 to 31 March 2018

Patient Documents

  • Patient Information Leaflet - explains to a patient how data about their placement is used to help improve patient care, how it is protected, and how to object to their data being included. There are two versions, with identical content:

1. Print version - to make a folded leaflet. Please print this landscape, two-to-a-page, duplex flipped on short edge, colour. Fold in half and give to your patients at a sensitive time within the placement process.

2. Online version - for easy reading on the web. 

Getting in touch

For further information or if you have any queries please contact NHS Digital's Contact Centre on 0300 303 5678, or alternatively email and include 'Out of Area Placements' in the subject line so your enquiry can be easily forwarded on to the OAPs project team.

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