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COVID-19 Public Health Directions 2020

A Direction given by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care requiring NHS Digital to establish and operate information systems to collect and analyse data in connection with COVID-19, and develop and operate information and communication systems to deliver services in connection with COVID-19.


COVID-19 purposes include but are not limited to the following purposes:

  • understanding COVID-19 and risks to public health, trends in COVID-19 and such risks, and controlling and preventing the spread of COVID-19 and such risks
  • identifying and understanding information about patients or potential patients with or at risk of COVID-19, information about incidents of patient exposure to COVID-19 and the management of patients with or at risk of COVID-19 including: locating, contacting, screening, flagging and monitoring such patients and collecting information about and providing services in relation to testing, diagnosis, self-isolation, fitness to work, treatment, medical and social interventions and recovery from COVID-19
  • understanding information about patient access to health services and adult social care services as a direct or indirect result of COVID-19 and the availability and capacity of those services
  • monitoring and managing the response to COVID-19 by health and social care bodies and the Government including providing information to the public about COVID-19 and its effectiveness and information about capacity, medicines, equipment, supplies, services and the workforce within the health services and adult social care services
  • delivering services to patients, clinicians, the health services and adult social care services workforce and the public about and in connection with COVID-19, including the provision of information, fit notes and the provision of health care and adult social care services
  • research and planning in relation to COVID-19

Legal basis

Sections 254(1) and (6), section 260(2)(d), section 261(2)(e), section 262(1), section 262(3) and section 304(9), (10) and (12) of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 (the 2012 Act) and Regulation 32 of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Constitution and Functions) and the Health and Social Care Information Centre (Functions) Regulations 2013 (the Regulations).

This Direction came into effect on 17 March 2020.

Learn more about this Direction

Last edited: 27 April 2020 12:13 pm