Privacy notice - NHS number

The use of your NHS Number in adult social care

Purpose for processing your information

If you are receiving support from adult social care then the NHS may share your NHS Number with Westminster City Council’s adult social care department.  This is so that the NHS and adult social care are using the same number to identify you whilst providing your care.  By using the same number, the NHS and Westminster City Council’s adult social care department can work together more closely to improve your care and support.

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.

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

  • better coordination 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 or reablement services leading to greater independence for patients
  • less paperwork and more efficient use of social care resources

We collect the following information:

  • your NHS Number

How we collect your information

We obtain your NHS Number through an NHS service called the Personal Demographic Service (PDS).  Westminster City Council’s adult social care department sends basic information we collect from you, 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 dedicated adult social care case management system, to ensure that security controls are in place, and access is controlled

The NHS Number then has 2 uses:

  1. It provides a unique identifier for the information in the council’s adult social care case management system, for the provision of direct care.
  2. It is also available for use in an integrated care record system across a number of support services including GPs, hospitals, community matrons, district nurses and social care practitioners.

The council’s IT security and confidentiality policies ensure that your information is protected, and available only to staff directly involved in your care.  These policies are available by contacting the data protection officer. Find contact details and read the council’s privacy notice.                

Who the information is shared with

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 IT security and confidentiality policies ensure that your information is protected, and available only to staff directly involved in your care.  These policies are available by contacting the information management team.

We may also anonymise  some personal data you provide to us, so that you cannot be identified, and then use this data to allow the council and the NHS to effectively target and plan the provision of services.

Details for transfers

We share this data by securely submitting details of the services that we may provide to you for inclusion in a shared system, which approved health and social care professionals may access. That system may also hold information such as your prescribed medicines or your hospital admissions, provided by your GP or by the hospital.

Along with social care departments, GPs, hospitals, community and mental health trusts across North West London are participating in this initiative.

How long do we keep your information?

We will only keep your information for as long as the law requires and to provide you with the necessary services in line with our stated retention policy.

In general, we retain information related to adult social care for 6 years after we have ceased to assess your needs or provide services to you. In mental health cases, this period rises to 20 years.

Your right to opt out from the use of your NHS Number

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 or contact us.

If you have any concerns

Please contact us using the contact details above if you would like to know more about the information we hold about you and how we use it.

You have a right to complain to us if you think we have not complied with our obligation for handling your personal information. Read more about our data protection policies.

If you are not satisfied with the council’s response you have a right to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Changes in your circumstances

You must notify us immediately if there are any changes in your circumstances and personal details so we can maintain an accurate and up to date record of your information.


Last updated: 28 June 2018
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