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Creating a new NHS England: Health Education England, NHS Digital and NHS England have merged. More about the merger.


Information about how NHS Digital collects and uses ethnicity data. NHS Digital collects information on ethnicity in areas covering births, general practice and secondary uses.

General practice

Ethnic category is recorded in general practice systems. We access this information through our general practice collections.

Birth notifications

We operate a births notification service that updates the Personal Demographics Service and informs child health and hearing screening teams. This information includes the PDS ethnic category. The information is held for 6 months to help detect and resolve duplicates. After 6 months it is deleted.

Secondary uses

NHS Digital collects ethnic category using the values set by the Office for National Statistics as per the 2001 census. The values are documented in the NHS Data Model and Dictionary. We use this information in our statistical and management information reporting including:

Information Asset

NHS Digital maintains an ethnic category information asset that combines data from general practice and hospital episode statistics (HES). Combining these sources increases coverage, with the first iteration increasing this from 66% to 88%. The information asset will be used for approved purposes including dissemination to the NHS England flu national call/recall service.

Ethnic Category MI


NHS Digital has published information on ethnicity in health and care:

Ethnicity and outcomes of coronavirus (COVID-19) patients in England

Last edited: 15 March 2023 11:27 am