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National Record Locator (NRL)


Why and how we process your data in the National Record Locator and your rights.

Controller NHS Digital
How we use the information (processing activities)

The National Record Locator provides a service to health and care organisations that allows them to make patient records available to those that need them for the delivery of care to patients. The service works by providing a registry of pointers, or bookmarking, that shows a user that a patient record exists and where it is held. The user can then use the information held on the NRL to contact the organisation where the record is held to request more information, or directly request the record if the user’s system is enabled to allow this. This service allows those delivering care in health settings, such as an authorised clinician or care worker to access a patient’s record in real time and at the point of need. NHS Digital provides the NRL service as the means to enable controllers to share information. The NRL services provide a secure mechanism for sharing categories of data and records with specified types of health and care organisations that require it for the delivery of care. NHS Digital assists and supports the controllers in meeting their responsibilities of controllership and in doing so is responsible for the creation and maintenance of the pointer data model and processes the data that makes up the pointer registry on behalf of the controllers that use the NRL. NHS Digital also performs a technical check when the NRL receives the pointer from the NRL Provider in order to validate the pointer to ensure it is populated using the relevant data and that it is in the correct format. NHS Digital audits the pointer publication (or any subsequent amendments or deletion) and support investigations e.g. into system misuse or clinical incidents.

Does this contain sensitive (special category) data such as health information? Yes
Who are recipients of this data?

Permitted health and social care organisations and healthcare professionals, providing services to those organisations. 

Is data transferred outside the UK? This data is not transferred out of the UK
How long the data is kept NRL and SSP audit data is retained for the life of the patient plus 30 years. The pointer remains in place indefinitely for medical / legal audit purposes only.
Our lawful basis for holding this data Legal obligation
Your rights
  • Tick Be informed
  • Tick Get access to it
  • Tick Rectify or change it
  • Cross Erase or remove it
  • Tick Restrict or stop processing it
  • Cross Move, copy or transfer it
  • Cross Object to it being processed or used
  • Cross Know if a decision was made by a computer rather than a person
How can you withdraw your consent?

Consent is not the basis for processing. 

Where does this data come from? The National Record Locator service shares data between controllers who have a legitimate purpose to share and access to support the delivery of health and social care. The data will come from health and social care organisations.

Where NHS Digital uses this data


National Record Locator (NRL)

National Record Locator (NRL) will allow health and care professionals and providers to securely locate and identify patient records elsewhere in the health system.