NHS Digital is also known as the Health and Social Care Information Centre. We were set up by the Health and Social Care Act 2012. One of our specific legal responsibilities is to be the safe haven of health and care information. We collect data and information about people using health and care services in England and in some cases Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. This information is needed to run the health service.
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, and NHS England, can tell us to collect and process information on specific topics, or set up information systems to collect information. This means they can see, for example, whether policies are working or which treatments are most effective. These orders are called 'directions'.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC), National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and NHS Improvement (NHSI) can also tell us to collect information. These are called 'mandatory requests'.
Other health and care organisations and local authorities can also ask us to collect information for them, if they are legally allowed to view this information.
When we are told or asked to collect certain information, meaning that health and care organisations legally have to share it with us, we publish 'data provision notices', telling these organisations what we need to collect from them.