Data Choices

Your Data Matters to the NHS

Information about your health and care helps us to improve your individual care, speed up diagnosis, plan your local services and research new treatments. The NHS is committed to keeping patient information safe and always being clear about how it is used.


How your data is used

Information about your individual care such as treatment and diagnoses is collected about you whenever you use health and care services. It is also used to help us and other organisations for research and planning such as research into new treatments, deciding where to put GP clinics and planning for the number of doctors and nurses in your local hospital.  It is only used in this way when there is a clear legal basis to use the information to help improve health and care for you, your family and future generations.

Wherever possible we try to use data that does not identify you, but sometimes it is necessary to use your confidential patient information.

data choices


You have a choice

You do not need to do anything if you are happy about how your information is used. If you do not want your confidential patient information to be used for research and planning, you can choose to opt out securely online or through a telephone service. You can change your mind about your choice at any time.


Will choosing this opt-out affect your care and treatment?

No, choosing to opt out will not affect how information is used to support your care and treatment. You will still be invited for screening services, such as screenings for bowel cancer.


What do you need to do?

If you are happy for your confidential patient information to be used for research and planning, you do not need to do anything.

To find out more about the benefits of data sharing, how data is protected, or to make/change your opt-out choice visit NHS - Your NHS Data Matters.


Sharing Data

We know that many patients have been concerned about all the publicity on sharing patient data.

It is essential that we continue to share data with other healthcare organisations to keep you safe.

Sharing Data

NHS digital is the NHS provider for data and IT systems for the NHS in England. They will collect the following information for planning purposes:

  • Data about diagnoses, symptoms, observations, test results, medications, allergies, immunisations, referrals, recalls, and appointments, including information about physical, mental and sexual health
  • Data on sex, ethnicity and sexual orientation
  • Data about staff who have treated patients

NHS Digital will NOT collect:

  • Name and address (except for postcode, protected in a unique coded form)
  • Written notes, such as the details of conversations with doctors and nurses
  • Images, letters and documents  
  • Coded data that is not needed due to its age - for example, medication, referral and appointment data that is over ten years old
  • Coded data that GPs are not permitted to share by law - for example, specific codes about IVF treatment, and specific information about gender re-assignment

The data will go through a process of pseudonymisation which means that identifiable information such as NHS numbers, dates of birth and postcodes are replaced with codes.

  • If you do not want your data shared with NHS digital then you can complete a Type 1 Opt out form. This means we put a code on your record to exclude your data from being shared with NHS Digital.
  • If you do not want your data shared any further than NHS digital then can complete a National data opt out form