Providers of NHS services are to simplify the way they submit patient level reference cost data to national bodies, under proposals from the regulator Monitor designed to improve comparisons between providers.

In a move expected to “reduce the regulatory burden”, providers, trusts and health companies will be required to submit one set of annual costing data for all their work, instead of the three collections currently submitted.

Trusts and foundation trusts are required to collect reference, education and training cost data annually and can voluntarily submit an additional patient level cost collection.

Monitor has suggested that the move would allow more detailed comparisons between providers in order to find further opportunities for efficiency savings and improvements to patient care.

Under the proposals, published in the paper Improving the Costing of NHS Services, the regulator intends to create a single costing method, which would inform a single national cost collection for all provider activities.

It says that such a move would “reduce the collection burden on trusts and allow their costing teams to spend time more productively, developing high standard costing processes, and using the information produced to improve the quality and efficiency of patient care”.

Trusts and foundation trusts are expected to submit reference costs to NHS England and Monitor every year to inform the national tariff system.

Transition to the reformed costing method would take five years for each service area.

As part of the reforms, the national agency is also mulling a proposal to create a central accreditation system to ensure the capability of local patient level information costing systems.

The proposals are out to consultation until 16 January 2015.