NHS Data Sharing
Better information means better care
Using information about the care you have received enables those involved in providing care and health services to improve the quality of care and health services for all. The role of the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) is to ensure that high quality information is used appropriately to improve patient care.
NHS England has therefore commissioned a programme of work on behalf of the NHS, public health and social care services to address gaps in information. Our aim is to ensure that the best possible evidence is available to improve the quality of care for all.
It is important that the NHS can use this information to get a complete picture of what is happening across health and social care and to plan services according to what works best. The new system will provide joined-up information about the care received from all of the different parts of the health service, including hospitals and GP practices.
Your date of birth, full postcode, NHS Number and gender rather than your name will be used to link your records in a secure system, managed by the HSCIC. Once this information has been linked, a new record will be created. This new record will not contain information that identifies you. The type of information shared, and how it is shared, is controlled by law and strict confidentiality rules.
Sharing information about the care you have received helps us to understand the health needs of everyone and the quality of the treatment and care provided and reduce inequalities in the care provided. The new system will also provide information that will enable the public to hold the NHS to account and ensure that any unacceptable standards of care are identified as quickly as possible. Information will help to:
•find more effective ways of preventing, treating and managing illnesses
•make sure that any changes or improvements to services reflect the needs of the local patients
•understand who is most at risk of particular diseases and conditions, so those who can plan care can provide preventative services
•improve your understanding of the outcomes of care, giving you greater confidence in health and social care services
•identify who could be at risk of a condition or would benefit from a particular treatment
•make sure that the NHS organisations receive the correct payments for the services they provide
•improve the public’s understanding of the outcomes of care, giving them confidence in health and care services
•guide decisions about how to manage NHS resources so that they can best support the treatment and management of illness for all patients
It is important that you read the leaflet Better information means better care (PDF, 2MB) so that you understand how information in medical records can be used to improve the way that healthcare is delivered.
If you are happy for your information to be used then you do not need to do anything. But if you have concerns or if you do not want information that identifies you from being shared outside your GP practice, as described here, inform a member of staff at your practice. They will make a note of this in your medical record. This will prevent your information being used other than where necessary by law, such as in case of a public health emergency.
You will also be able to restrict the use of information held by other places you receive care from. However, this will not affect the care you receive.
You can change your mind at any time and as many times as you wish. Just inform your GP practice and ask them to record your wishes.
Information from GP practices will begin to be extracted and sent to the HSCIC in the spring 2014. The GP data will be linked with the hospital data already held by the HSCIC.
For more information about how data is collected and shared, including confidentiality, read the Q&A below or the Patient FAQs (PDF, 52Kb) produced by the HSCIC and NHS England.
Call our dedicated patient information line in relation to data sharing on 0300 456 3531. Translation and text phone services are also available.