NHS Digital, Personal Demographics Service (PDS)
If you are receiving care from a health or care organisation then that organisation may share your NHS number with other organisations providing your care. This is so that the health and care organisations are using the same number to identify you whilst providing your care. By using the same number, the health and care organisations can work together more closely to improve your care and support.
Your NHS number is accessed through an NHS Digital service called the Personal Demographic Service (PDS). A health or care organisation sends basic information such as your name, address and date of birth to the PDS in order to find your NHS Number. Once retrieved from the PDS the NHS Number is stored in the organisation’s case management system. These data are retained in line with the organisation’s record retention policies and in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998, Government record retention regulations and best practice. Further information is available [contact details or web link to describe how PID, in the PN, is handled and record retention policies].
The organisation will share information only to provide health and care professionals directly involved in your care access to the most up-to-date information about you. Access to information is strictly controlled, based on the role of the professional. For example, social workers will only have access to information that is relevant to the execution of their care duties.
Case management systems are provided by system suppliers, who are bound by the same rules. In such cases, systems may access the PDS directly or use third party software to access the PDS, such as the PDS FHIR API.
The use of joined up information across health and social care brings many benefits. One specific example where this will be the case is the discharge of patients into social care. Delays in discharge (commonly known as bed blocking) can occur because details of social care involvement are not readily available to the staff on the hospital ward. The hospital does not know who to contact to discuss the ongoing care of a patient. The linking of social care and health information via the NHS Number will help hospital staff quickly identify if social care support is already in place and who the most appropriate contact is. Ongoing care can be planned earlier in the process because hospital staff will know who to talk to.
You have the right to object to the processing of your NHS Number in this way. This will not stop you from receiving care but will result in the benefits outlined above not being realised. To help you decide, the health or care organisation will discuss with you how this may affect their ability to provide you with care, and any other options that you have.
If you wish to opt-out from the use of your NHS Number in this way, please contact us on [telephone] or email to [email address].