Getting hold of Opentest documentation

Hello, I have just obtained an Opentest account (its the test environment for the SPINE-related services). I was able to successfully connect to the VPN. Once on the VPN I was able to securely connect to the HTTPS server (using the key and certificate supplied). I can see that the server is up and running.

Then the challenges start. I issued a GET request on the root url I was given and the he server returns a 404 error. Similarly, an OPTIONS request returns a 404 error.

Because I can’t find any detailed Opentest documentation (we’ve already looked through the Github README file) we’re unable to determine if the problem is simply that we need to send these requests to a subdirectory of the root or if there is some other issue. We’re not even sure if the endpoint represents a REST service!

Can anyone advise on where/how to get hold of the Opentest API documentation, please? Thanks so much.

Hi @Ade.

I’ve been on at the Spine team about the shambolic undiscoverability of their Spine documentation for at least 4 years now.

In short, the document you want is the Messaging Implementation Manual (MIM) and it’s here in the TRUD document store, which is a vast warehouse of unreadable crap.

You will note that the document was last updated in 2008 (yes 10 years ago) and still bears the proud ‘Connecting For Health’ branding which even in 2008 had the faint whiff of failure about it.

Hi Marcus. Thanks so much for the pointer but also for the confirmation that I’m being stupid re tracking this stuff down! Once you had the documentation did you find it was a doddle to actually connect with OpenTest? Also did you have to complete another form to get access to test/dummy EPS records? Thanks again. Really appreciate your response.

Is this any use?

It was posted on ryver/INTEROPen

@mayfield.g.kev thanks - I think @Ade has got an opentest account but is struggling to understand the API and also the internal structure of the test environment - eg which URLs or IPs the requests should be sent to.

I’m wondering if there’s possibly a call for bringing back the Connectathons HSCIC used to do, to get people connected to the Spine OpenTest environment and show them around their first few calls? I used to run them but it would be good to have a bigger faculty and people with more detailed knowledge on board.

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Hi @Ade,

Unfortunately relatively few Spine systems are available as simple APIs, I think this is improving with the transition towards FHIR interfaces but there is a lot of legacy stuff there.

I don’t know what you’re doing but as a starter you’ll almost certainly want to access patient demographics. In the absence of a FHIR interface for this the simplest way to query Spine Demographics is to use Spine Mini Service Provider for PDS which is fairly well documented here:

As you’re after EPS data there is a relatively simple EPS Tracker API making prescription status information documented on the API hub: Unfortunately actually prescribing or dispensing prescriptions using EPS is a lot more involved. Standard test data packs for patients and prescriptions are available to be loaded into opentest - if you contact the SA servicedesk you used to get your opentest credentials then I’m sure they’d be able to provide.

@pacharanero NHS Digital are still running Connectathons: see for docs from the most recent


Hi @Ade

I work at NHS Digital in the Spine Core team, I showed your query to my colleagues and they suggested this resource might help:

Think you need to look at the ‘Process for Connecting to a Path To Live Environment’ document if you’ve not already.

There’s contact details for our Solution Assurance team who can support you further if needed

Hope this helps

Thanks :slight_smile:

Thanks so much for this, Jen. I really appreciate it. I’m going to spend the afternoon reading through it :).

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Is that an N3 address (

Hi @mayfield.g.kev

It appears a N3/HSCN link is required yes - sorry, didn’t realise otherwise I would have put on the original post. :slight_smile:

Probably best to contact the Assurance Support team - 0300 303 4555 or email if you need help.


Think @ade is far from alone and many may have given up the struggle of working in the dark. Would be happy to put together a comprehensive document to help future SPINE API newbs if anyone else is up for it. We’ll even put pictures in it…:grinning:

@Jen_Redman - your thoughts… Also, as many dev’s don’t have N3/HSCN would it be possible to share external as we imagine that inundating Assurance Support desk with silly little ‘How to’ questions will wear thin rather quickly.

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HI @jkmcs

Sounds like a great idea. Although this is not my bag (I’m relatively new to the Spine Core family, I’m a product owner but my work so far has been focused on SCRa rather than APIs, but I’ll be moving on to that soon!) What you need is someone more familiar building things with the Open Test environment)… I’m currently trying to hunt down some people who can help further.

There is something called the Supplier Information Exchange which I’m trying to find out more about for you. That might be a good route in to the right people to feedback on documentation and start to help build something more useful.

Please could you contact about the Assurance Support resource been made available outside N3 as they will be best placed to answer. Although I have since found out that the best resource to use for information and tools to help developers create software for health and social care is:

I’ll be in touch when I have some more information.

Hi. It won’t answer all the questions above, but I’ve been working with the Spine team to pull together some common documentation for Spine services (primarily FHIR APIs but not limited to those). There’s a lot more to add, but hopefully it’s a start. Feedback welcome!


I should add that the documentation I mention above is all generated using Jekyll, and the source is here: - I’m happy to accept pull requests if anyone wants to fork the repo and make improvements!


Thanks @Jen_Redman and @ahatherly

Great to have your contribution to this forum, it’s become a sort of ‘unofficial’ help site for Spine connections, and I’m happy to see that grow, maybe even into an unofficial Spine users forum, if we can.

@ahatherly is a great resource which I’m sure we can all help withthe further development of. We really need commitment from those higher up in NHSD to surface ALL documentation in rather than behind N3, because for many SMEs it is uneconomic to pay for N3 access until they at least have a proof of concept application, and they can’t get a POC built without access to the documentation.


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Thanks @Jen_Redman. documents downloaded and being read as we speak. Great steer…
We’ll hook up with @ahatherly and get the lay of the land. Adam? your thoughts?

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An interesting conundrum you paint there Marcus and you’re right - an N3 is not cheap even with a PoC in place it is still beyond the pockets of many SME’s particularly start-ups.

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This is exactly right! Getting access was relatively simple, it’s the making calls without access to documentation that’s proving a challenge.

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Hi Jen,
Although the documentation proved helpful, affraid we’re not gaining much traction elsewhere. Will wait for you to get in touch once you have more information. In the meantime, if there is anyone else we can speak with regarding the low level detail required for getting this document started then please let us know.

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Has anyone got a cheat sheet for connections?

I’ve got connected

I’m not finding instructions on how to generate the pkcs12 file (I’ve got certificates in the email which I think are PEM format - Believe the command is
openssl pkcs12 -export -inkey key.pem -in server.pem -out cert2.p12
the pem files are taken from the certs in the email
I think this next command should then work (from
Stage 1: Getting started quick start - NHS Digital ) [Maybe a different ip address]

curl -X POST -H SOAPAction:urn:nhs-itk:services:201005:getNHSNumber-v1-0 -H content-type:text/xml -E p12_filename.p12:Password -d @getNHSNumber.xml -k

Presume from that ip address I’d be able to access wsdl files?