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Creating a new NHS England: NHS England and NHS Digital merged on 1 February 2023. More about the merger.

NHS Digital's legal right to collect information

Explaining why we are legally allowed to collect health and care information.

The Health and Social Care Act 2012

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) and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)  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.

See all directions and data provision notices

Further information

internal Your choices on information we hold about you

Where we collect and use information that could identify you, you can make certain choices, including whether to opt out of sharing your confidential patient information.

Last edited: 25 November 2022 4:21 pm