How we protect your data - Data Sharing Opt Outs

Compliance Statement

Registration Authorities

Organisations that deliver NHS care and need to access patient information within NHS systems and other national services must set up Registration Authorities to manage this process. The roles and responsibilities of Registration Authorities are defined by NHS policy. Their key tasks are to:

  • verify the identity of all healthcare staff needing access to sensitive data
  • establish and provide the level access needed

Access information is on a database, which is interrogated every time a user logs on, and the appropriate access is granted. Users have no way of changing their level of access.

Why we have Smartcards

Smartcards are similar to a chip and PIN credit or debit card, but are more secure. Smartcards are required to access and use IT systems and services essential to the provision of patient care.

 You Personal and private data is held in “cloud storage.  Our access to your data is via the: Health and Social Care Network

The Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) is the new data network for health and care organisations which replaced N3. It provides the underlying network arrangements to help integrate and transform health and social care services by enabling them to access and share information more reliably, flexibly and efficiently.

The HSCN Connection Agreement is organisation-centric: each organisation must sign just one Connection Agreement no matter how many locations or HSCN connections they have or use.

 Organisation Data Service

The Organisation Data Service (ODS) is provided by NHS Digital. It's responsible for the publication of all organisation and practitioner codes, and national policy and standards regarding the majority of organisation codes, and encompasses the functionality and services previously provided by the National Administrative Codes Service (NACS).

These code standards form part of the NHS data standards. NHS Digital is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the ODS and its overall development.

Why our ODS code is needed

It's vital to the provision of effective healthcare that the various locations involved in a patient's treatment can communicate quickly and efficiently.

ODS codes facilitate this process by providing unique identification codes for organisational entities of interest to the NHS, including:

  • NHS trusts
  • clinical commissioning groups (CCGs)
  • hospitals
  • GP practices

The codes are distributed to the wider NHS and uploaded to IT systems, providing a set of organisational data and organisation types, names and addresses that are consistent across the board.

This allows those IT systems to identify precise locations reliably, quickly and easily. This requirement for systems to ensure that only valid data is exported is a normal function of any IT system and is essential for the correct exchange of information.

You can search for existing ODS codes using the ODS Portal (a Transition Network or HSCN connection is required) or register for an ODS code if you don't already have one.

 We use: NHSmail

NHSmail is the secure email, directory and calendar service available to health and social care staff in England and Scotland. It's available to use without charge for sharing information securely by anyone involved in and supporting the business of health and social care.

  We share your health data with other NHS Provider to ensure you get the right treatment.  However, you can opt out of this data sharing.

Anyone who has an NHS number and has registered for care or treatment with the NHS in England can set an opt out if they wish to, even if they don’t currently live in England.

 Patients who can set an opt-out choice for themselves

If a patient is aged 13 or over, they can set their own opt-out choice using the online service, the telephone service, the NHS App, or 'print-and-post', completing a form by hand and sending it in.

Patients who can set an opt-out choice on behalf of someone else

Someone can set an opt-out choice on behalf of a patient, by proxy, if:

  • they are the parent or legal guardian of the patient, who is a child aged 12 or under
  • they have a formal legal relationship with the patient, for example they have legal power of attorney or are a court-appointed deputy

They can only do this using the 'print and post' service.

Changing an opt-out choice

An opt-out choice can be changed at any time by the patient or their proxy.

Using the online service

Patients can set their own opt-out choice by visiting using any internet enabled device. So that the service can confirm their identity, they will need to provide:

  • their NHS number, or their postcode (as registered with their GP practice)
  • their mobile phone number or email address provided previously at a GP practice or other NHS service

The online service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Using the NHS App

Patients who have registered for the NHS App using NHS login can set a national data opt-out using the app.

Using the telephone service

Patients can set their own opt-out choice by calling 0300 303 5678.

Calling this number should cost no more than calls to a normal landline number.

The telephone service is available 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, apart from on English bank or public holidays.

Using 'print-and-post'

If a patient is unable to use the online or telephone service, or would prefer not to, they can compete a paper form and post it.

The form can be downloaded from or requested by calling the telephone service on 0300 303 5678.  

Patients in prison or secure settings

There are special arrangements for patients in prison or other similar secure settings, known as detained and secure estates. A health and care professional can help register a patient’s opt-out choice. See Guidance for detained and secure estates.


During the process of setting their opt-out choice, the patient can choose their preferred communication method:

  • email
  • SMS text
  • letter

Once the process has been completed, the patient will receive a confirmation that their national data opt-out choice has been set.