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ISB 0149 NHS Number

This information standard sets out the scope and use of the NHS number, which is the unique identifier for a patient within the NHS in England and Wales. There is an overarching standard, supplemented by two use cases for how the standard should be used in general practice and secondary care.

About this information standard

This standard provides the specification for use of the NHS number by NHS bodies and by other organisations providing health and care services in England in partnership with the NHS. It defines how the NHS number must be used in identifying people receiving health and care services, and in locating and communicating their health and care records and other information pertaining to the planning and provision of their care. The standard sets out how information systems must accept, store, process, display and transmit the NHS number, and what organisations must do to ensure that they use the NHS number correctly.

Current releases

NHS Number

Release date 07/06/2012
Release number Amd 136/2010
Key documents

NHS Number for General Practice

Release date  19/03/2009
Release number DSCN 31/2008
Key documents 
Supporting information Update: March 2011: The NHS Number Programme has issued guidance to help GP Practices follow current good practice for NHS number usage. NHS Number Guidance for GP Practices is available on the NHS Digital website


NHS Number for Secondary Care

Last edited: 18 May 2023 12:10 pm