The use of NHS number and information sharing with NHS England

If you are receiving support from adult social care then the NHS may share your NHS number with adult social care. This is so the NHS and adult social care are using the same number to identify you while providing your care. By using the same number, the NHS and adult social care can work together more closely to improve your care and support.

Your NHS number is accessed through an NHS service called the Personal Demographic Service (PDS). Adult social care 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 Council’s adult social care case management system.

These data are retained in the adult social care system in line with the Council's record retention policy. This policy is in accordance with data protection legislation, Government record retention regulations and best practice. Further information is available here.

In terms of data protection legislation, the Council is both the Data Controller and the Data Processor.

The NHS Number then has two uses, the first being a unique identifier to allow Social Care information to be displayed in the Council’s adult social care case management system, for the provision of direct care. We will also use this number in an integrated care record system across a number of support services including GP’s, hospitals, community matrons, district nurses and social care practitioners.

The Council will share information only to provide health and social care professionals directly involved in your care access to the most up-to-date information about you. It will do this by sharing appropriate information between health and social care services at the time of patient contact. 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.

The Council’s Global Privacy Policy ensures that your information is protected, and available only to staff directly involved in your care. This policy is available here.

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 point of contact is. Ongoing care can be planned earlier in the process, because hospital staff will know who to contact.

The addition of the NHS Number to social care data will bring additional benefits:

  • Better coordinated and safer care across health and social care enabled through the sharing of real-time information.
  • Better coordination of discharges from hospital into social care, as explained above.
  • More time to spend on planning and coordinating social care because health staff can identify and involve social care staff earlier in the process.
  • Earlier intervention to maximise the opportunities for reablement services leading to greater independence for patients.
  • Less paperwork and more efficient use of social care resources

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, we will discuss with you how this may affect our ability to provide you with care, and any other options you have.

If you wish to opt-out from the use of your NHS number for social care purposes, please talk with your social worker, by contacting us on 023 8083 3003.

Collection of client-level adult social care data

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 gives NHS England the power to require data from health or social care bodies, or organisations that provide publicly funded health or adult social care in England.

The data is collected under the Collection of Client-Level Adult Social Care Data (No.2) Direction 2021, and can be used, and may be linked to other data accessible from NHS England, in order to assist Local and National Government, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and other integrated health and care commissioning bodies, in fulfilling their statutory functions.

The Council is legally required to provide this data, but only pseudonymised data will be shared. The National Data Opt-Out will not apply to the submission of data to NHS England for this collection because it is a legal requirement with which the Council must comply.

There is no requirement on the council to obtain explicit consent from our service users and service users are unable to “opt out” of this pseudonymised data sharing. This data sharing applies to both service users funded by the city council and to carers receiving a direct payment or information, advice/signposting from Southampton Citizen’s Advice.

You may also find it helpful to view the 'Questions about local authority information sharing with NHS England'.