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NHS National Services Scotland ISD Scotland & NHS National Services Scotland


This section contains lookup files and information for the main geographies used in analyses.

National Records of Scotland (NRS) release the Scottish Postcode Directory (SPD) every 6 months and this is the main geographical lookup file used in health analyses.

A flow chart detailing the path that the data follows upon submission to ISD can be seen below:

ISD postcode processingDownload Powerpoint file [84Kb]

Postcode Lookup Files

The below postcode file comprises a list of live and deleted postcodes (small and large user) in Scotland, and acts as a lookup file to higher geographies such as Census Output Area, Data Zone, Intermediate Zone, Council Area, Integration Authorities (HSCP) NHS Board and other lesser used geographies. The zip file below contains several CSV files which contains lookup files with the names and codes for Scottish geographies.

File Format Size Format Size
Scottish Postcode Directory 2017_2 SPSS 135MB CSV 85MB
Geography Lookups 2017_2 Zip 810KB    
SPD Bulletin 2017_2 PDF 463KB    

Last Update: Files above were updated with the 2017_2 NRS Scottish Postcode Directory in September 2017
Next Update: Files above will be updated with the 2018_1 NRS Scottish Postcode Directory around April 2018
Source: National Records of Scotland (NRS)

Detailed information about the geographies can be found below.

Important Information About This File

Postcodes can be decommissioned and recycled in another area by the Royal Mail, and are not static over time due to building development and demolition. Entire areas can be re-coded and codes can be re-used in a different place after just two years. Care should therefore be taken when undertaking analysis. The postcode lookup files used by ISD are based on the most recent version of a postcode. In most cases the postcode will be 'live' but some are historic and 'deleted' and retained on the files.

Postcodes may not be an exact 'fit' when matched with higher geographies. When unit postcodes span council areas they are split to reflect the council area that they fall into. To show this split they are coded as A, B or C postcodes:

'A' coded postcodes represent either the largest part of a split postcode, or the whole of an unsplit postcode.

'B' coded element of a unit postcode represents the smaller part of a split postcode. Those postcodes split between two council areas therefore have an 'A' and 'B' part.

'C' coded element of a unit postcode represents the smallest part of a unit postcode split between three council area (coded 'A', 'B', and 'C').

Please be aware that the ISD lookups include only the 'A' postcodes, so it appears that there is a direct match from postcode to council area.

Please see the NRS Background note Download PDF file [3.5Mb] for further information.

Information on geographical fit can be found on the Scottish Government's Geography Fit Matrix

All geographic codes and names can be found on the Scottish Government's Standard Geographic Codes Register - Scotland.

Detailed information about the geographies used in analyses can be found below.

Data Zone

The Scottish Government introduced Data Zones in 2004 as their preferred small area geography. ISD has used these as a replacement for postcode sectors. Data Zones have been designed to cover the whole of Scotland, nesting within council area (also known as local authority) boundaries. Data Zones are a composite geography based on aggregates of 2001 Census output areas and originally had a population of between 500 and 1,000 people per Data Zone. Where possible, they have been made to respect physical boundaries and natural communities, have a regular shape and contain households with similar social characteristics.

Over time and with ongoing building development the numbers of people in each Data Zone has fluctuated, with numbers in some Data Zones swelling to over 8,000 people and in the case of several Data Zones dropping to 0.

On the 6th November 2014, the Scottish Government released the redrawn Data Zone and Intermediate Zone Boundaries. The new redrawn Data Zones are known as Data Zone 2011 as they have been created following the release of the 2011 Census results Guidance is available from the Scottish Government website.

Data Zones are used as the 'building block' for the higher level geography such as intermediate zone. In addition, since estimates of the resident population in CHPs with exact boundaries are not produced by NRS, ISD provides 'best fit' CHP population estimates from data zone aggregrates.

Intermediate Zone

Intermediate Zones are a composite geography created from Data Zone aggregates and largely fitting within council area boundaries. They have been created in order to provide a suitable small area geography for the release of potentially sensitive data where Data Zone level data may prove to be disclosive.

On the 6th November 2014, the Scottish Government released the redrawn Data Zone and Intermediate Zone boundaries. The new redrawn Data Zones are known as Data Zone 2011 and the new redrawn Intermediate Zones are known as Intermediate Zone 2011, as they have been created following the release of the 2011 Census results.

Integration Authority / Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP)

Integration Authorities / Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs) were introduced on the 1st April 2016. They were formed as part of the Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act in 2014. Their aim is to bring together NHS Boards and local council care services under one partnership arrangement for each area. Working together, NHS Boards and local council care services will be jointly responsible for the health and care needs of patients, to ensure that those who use services get the right care and support whatever their needs, at any point in their care journey.

The Official legal title of the geography is Integration Authorities, although they will more commonly be referred to as Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs) or Parternships. There are two models of Integration Authorities: Integration Joint Boards (IJB); and Lead Agency. There will be 31 Integration Authorities: 30 IJBs and 1 Lead agency (Highland partnership). All except one Integration Authority will be coterminous with one local authority.

Currently there are 31 partnerships in Scotland. They share the same boundaries as the 32 local authorities. Please note Stirling and Clackmannanshire have merged to form the one HSCP. Further details can be found here:

Please see the Scottish Government website for more Information on HSCP:

NHS Board / Health Board

NHS boards are responsible for the healthcare of the Scottish population and report to the Scottish Government.

On 1st April 2014, NHS Board boundaries were changed to align with those of local authorities. The purpose of the change is to help NHS Boards and local authorities work closer together in the provision of care in the local community.

Since 31 March 2006 there have been 14 NHS board areas (also known as health board areas) in Scotland, based on groups of the local government regions and districts that existed before the introduction of council areas in 1996.

Before the 14 health board area structure, there were 15 health board areas. In 2006 Argyll and Clyde NHS Board was dissolved and changes were made to both Highland and Greater Glasgow NHS Boards to allow them to split the management of the Argyll and Clyde area. New boundaries were drawn between Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Highland, following the Argyll and Bute Council area boundary. The Argyll and Bute area moved into Highland NHS Board and the remaining parts were incorporated into the newly named Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Board.

Please note: Argyll and Clyde population breakdowns are not available after 2006.

Council Area / Local Authority

Since 1996, for local government purposes, Scotland has been divided into 32 areas designated as 'council areas' (also known as local authorities). Each of these areas is governed by a unitary authority known as a 'council'. These council areas replaced the pre-existing structure of 9 regions and 53 districts. In 2011, council area boundaries were redrawn. A lookup for the pre-2011 (2-digit) codes to 2011 (9-digit) codes can be downloaded here Download Excel file [10Kb].

On 1st April 2014, NHS Board boundaries were changed to align with those of local authorities. The purpose of the change is to help NHS Boards and local authorities work closer together in the provision of care in the local community.

Community Health Partnership (CHP)

From 1st April 2016, Community Health Partnership's (CHP's) are not longer active and have been replaced with Health and Social Care Partnerships.

Community Health Partnerships (CHPs) were first created in 2004 as part of the NHS Reform (Scotland) Act in order to play a key role in integrating health and social care in both primary and community settings. Whilst no two CHPs are the same they all aim to help deliver health improvement in order to reduce the health inequality gap in Scotland. The label CHP is also used as a blanket term for Community Health and Care Partnership (CHCP) and Community Health and Social Care Partnership (CHSCP/CHaSCP). Originally the CHP configuration in Scotland consisted of 41 areas. On 1st April 2007, Edinburgh North and Edinburgh South merged to become Edinburgh Community Health Partnership. As of 22nd March 2011, the five Glasgow City CHCPs officially merged to become one large CHP. Due to the size of Glasgow City CHP it is split into three sectors: North East Sector; North West Sector and South Sector.

As from 1st April 2012, NHS Highland has consolidated three of its CHPs (North, Mid & South-East Highland) into a single CHP, which it has named Highland Health and Social Care Partnership. This area is co-terminus with Highland Council area. The other CHP within NHS Highland, Argyll & Bute CHP, remains unaffected by these changes. There are now 34 CHPs in Scotland, and 32 councils. Please note that there are no official sub areas for the new Highland Health and Social Care Partnership.

CHPs are co-terminus with Council area boundaries.

© ISD Scotland 2010
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