Opting out of sharing your confidential patient information

You can decide if health and care information that could identify you is used to improve everyone's health and care, or only used for your own health and care. If you want your health and care information to be included in sets of data used to improve everyone's health and care, you don't need to do anything.

Request that your confidential patient information is only used for your own health and care

If you only want your health and care information to be used for your own care, you can request this. Making this choice won't affect the care you get in any way.

Tell your doctor's surgery if you don't want health information that could identify you to be used for any other reason than for your own individual care. Staff at the surgery will make sure your request is recorded on your medical records. This is called an opt-out.

There are two different kinds of opt-out.

Type 1 opt-out: medical records held at your doctor's surgery

You can stop information that could identify you from your GP medical records being used for any purpose other than your individual care by requesting that it isn't shared outside your GP practice. This is called a type 1 opt-out.

Type 2 opt-out: information held by NHS Digital

We collect information from across the health service and are the safe haven for health and care data. This means we are the legal guardians of everyone's health and care information. You can request that the information we collect and store from across the health service is not shared with other organisations for any other reason than your individual health and care. This is called a type 2 opt-out, and applies to nearly all uses of confidential patient information, with a few exceptions. Read more about how type 2 opt-outs work.

From 25 May 2018, existing type 2 opt-outs will be converted into the new national data opt-out. See 'a new way to opt out' below.

Change your mind about opting out

If you have previously opted out of allowing identifiable information about you to be used to improve everyone's health and care, you can change your decision by telling your GP practice, who will remove your opt-out.

A new way to opt-out

We are creating a new system called the National Data Opt-Out. This will replace type 2 opt-outs, and make it easier for you to register your decisions and for these to be respected across the health and care system. Old type 2 opt-outs only stopped NHS Digital sharing your data, but the national data opt out will apply to all health and care organisations. The new system will go live on 25 May 2018, and all health and care organisations will be expected to put your choices into practice by 2020.

You can register your choice or change your mind at any time.

Changes to current type 2 opt outs

If you have chosen to have a Type 2 opt-out, this will be automatically converted into the new national data opt out. You will be able to use the new system to change your mind at any time.

Further Information

  1. How opt-outs work

    Understand the system for recording people's choices on the use of their identifiable data.