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Sharing Data

How sharing information in your medical records can help the NHS to provide better care

A modern information system has been developed, which will make increased use of information from medical records with the intention of improving health services. The system is being delivered by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) and NHS England on behalf of the NHS.

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.

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
  • guide local decisions about changes that are needed to respond to the needs of local patients
  • support public health by anticipating risks of particular diseases and conditions, and help us to take action to prevent problems
  • 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 the benefit of patients

It is important that you read the leaflet How information about you helps us to provide better care (PDF, 344kb) 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 you should talk to your GP.

If you do not want information that identifies you from being shared outside your GP practice, talk to 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 speak to your GP practice and ask them to record your wishes. For example, if you state that you are happy for your information to be used then you later decide that you object, tell your GP and the HSCIC will then ensure that any information they have from your GP practice and that could identify you is removed.

Information from GP practices will begin to be extracted and sent to the HSCIC in the autumn 2013. 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 download the FAQ for patients (PDF, 153kb) produced by the HSCIC and NHS England.



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