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Privacy statement for the A&E self-service tool

Find out what information we collect when you use the A&E self-service tool, also known as the emergency department streaming tool service, along with how we use your information, who we share it with, how your data is kept secure and your rights to see or change the information.

The A&E self-service tool, also known as the emergency department streaming tool, is a kiosk-based service. It's provided as a web application by NHS Digital for use by patients who arrive at accident and emergency (A&E) departments with no pre-booked arrival time. 

Patients answer questions about why they have come to hospital and the symptoms they have, so that the service can direct them to the most appropriate care.

About this privacy statement

This privacy statement tells you what information we collect when you use the A&E self-service tool, also called the emergency department streaming tool service.

It also tells you:

  • how we use your information
  • who we share your information with
  • how your data is kept secure
  • about your rights to see or change information held about you

Information that can identify you

We’ll always tell you when we are collecting this information.

When you use the service we ask for:

  • your postcode 
  • your age and sex 
  • first name
  • last name

This information helps us find your NHS number.  

We use the personal information you’ve given us to carry out a 'personal demographic service (PDS)' check. This means we try to find your NHS number and your GP details.

When you answer questions about your symptoms (called ‘triage’) we collect the answers. We also collect the outcome (called ‘disposition’) you reach. This is so we can recommend the right outcome for your health needs. This might include directing you to other urgent care services in the area.

If you agree to use a recommended a clinical assessment service we will also ask for your: 

  • address
  • telephone number

If you’re using the service on behalf of someone else we’ll ask for their details. We need this personal information as we can’t give you the healthcare service you have asked for without it.

If the advice is for you to remain at the emergency department you are in, your details will be sent automatically to the reception desk , where that is possible.  

Having your NHS number means the healthcare professional can see information about you, such as details about any care plan you might be on. This makes it easier for them to give you the right help.

We might recommend that you should see a healthcare professional working outside the department in commissioned NHS services. This might be outside the NHS (for example, a pharmacist, or dentist), but will have been commissioned by the NHS to provide services. 

By agreeing to be referred to a healthcare professional you consent to the sharing of your personal information in a way which respects the Common Law Duty of Confidentiality.

Keeping your personal data secure

We convert your data into secure code (encrypt it) and store it on secure servers in the UK. Only approved people in the NHS with appropriate rights can see it. 

If you choose to be referred to a healthcare service, we add your personal details to the answers you have given to create a clinical record. We send this securely to the healthcare service that you select, which might be a service commissioned by the NHS like a pharmacy or dentist. By agreeing to be referred to a healthcare professional you agree to this.

NHS Digital keeps referral information that can identify you for 8 years for clinical audit purposes only. It’s then securely destroyed.

8 years is the amount of time information is kept for clinical audit purposes in the NHS.

Data sharing

Providing care

We will pass your answers and personal details to the healthcare service you have selected if you (or the person you are contacting us about), choose to be referred. This healthcare service might be outside the NHS, but commissioned by it.

That healthcare service may then go on to share your data with other healthcare providers. They will follow their own policies and data protection legislation if so.

By agreeing to be referred to another healthcare provider you are also agreeing that your data can be forwarded to them so they can provide care. If you’re using the service on behalf of someone else you should make sure that person has agreed their data can be shared in this way.

Other uses of your data

We collect details from your use of the tool and link it to data from the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) database. We collect your date of birth, sex, name and your postcode to get your NHS number. 

After the data is linked and before it’s used for analysis, the data will be fully anonymised so you cannot be identified.

We might ask you to complete a survey when you’ve finished using the service. 

The survey is run by NHS Digital using a tool provided by a third party (Qualtrics). The survey will include information about how you used the A&E self-service tool. It will not ask for any personal information. NHS Digital is responsible for your information and details of the survey will only be shared with NHS Digital staff.

NHS Digital will also share:

  • anonymous information on how the service is used with the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), and the National Clinical Governance Group
  • anonymous data with Public Health England (PHE) for detecting and monitoring clusters of disease (syndromic surveillance). You cannot be identified from this data. The information is used to monitor trends and plan responses to outbreaks of disease, such as coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • your personal data with the providers of direct care if you are referred or need to be seen 
  • findings and analysis of datasets outside NHS Digital. This data is used for operational reporting or dashboards that monitor service performance and local demand

Legal powers

We may pass on your personal information if we’re legally obliged to do so.

If you make a claim against us, we, and other third parties such as our solicitors, may need to look at this information.

We won’t share your personal information with anyone else without your permission for any other reason.

Legal information about using and storing data

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care issued a direction to NHS Digital to establish and operate information systems to support the coronavirus pandemic.  

All data agreements and sharing for coronavirus purposes have been arranged within these directions. Additional legal directions will be put in place before these expire in March 2021.

The A&E self-service tool, as part of the 111 First response, falls within these directions.  

Your rights

If you have any questions or concerns about this privacy statement or about the way in which we process your data, please contact us using the contact us form. 

To know how your data will be collected, processed and stored, and for what purposes, you can contact our Data Protection Office to make a complaint by emailing or by writing to:

Information Governance Compliance Team
NHS Digital
1 Trevelyan Square
Boar Lane

We ask that you try to resolve any issues with us first, although you have a right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) at any time about our processing of your personal information. 

The ICO is the UK regulator for data protection and upholds information rights. 

Contact the ICO.

Last edited: 3 February 2021 12:58 pm