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Use of your NHS number

Use of your NHS Number in Adult Social Care

If you are receiving support from Sunderland City Council's Adult Social Care (ASC) teams then the NHS may share your NHS number with ASC.

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 (Consistent Identifier) Regulations 2015 require that the NHS and ASC use the same number to identify you whilst providing your care. By using the same number the NHS and ASC can work together more closely to improve your care and support.

In terms of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Sunderland City Council is both the Data Controller and the Data Processor for the processing of your NHS number.

Our lawful basis for processing is as we have a statutory obligation as defined by Article 6(1)(c) of the GDPR.

Your NHS number is accessed through an NHS service called the Personal Demographic Service (PDS). ASC 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 then stored in the Council's ASC case management system.

These data are retained in the ASC system in line with the Council's record retention policies. Further information is available from Sunderland City Council's retention schedule for Adult Social Care.

The NHS Number then has two uses, the first being as 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 the NHS 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 the most up-to-date information about you to health and social care professionals directly involved in your care. It will do this by sharing appropriate information between health and social care services at the time of patient contact.

All information is held securely with appropriate physical, organisational and electronic access controls to ensure it is secure both at rest and when in transit.

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 helps hospital staff identify quickly 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 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 or 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 always discuss with you how this may affect our ability to provide you with care, and any other options you have.

Contact Us:

Data Protection Officer

Sunderland City Council

Civic Centre




Phone: Our health and wellbeing team.

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