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Birth notification service

Babies born in England, Wales and the Isle of Man are issued with a unique NHS number as soon as possible after birth. This goes on to form their lifelong electronic patient record. The NHS Number helps healthcare staff and service providers to identify and match patients to their health records.

Registering a birth

New births are registered on the Personal Demographics Service (PDS). The PDS is part of the NHS Spine.  This ensures that babies are issued with an NHS Number that is immediately available to organisations involved in the ongoing provision and recording of their care.

Midwifery staff will use one of two methods to register a birth:

  • If they are using a PDS-compliant system, they will register the birth directly onto the PDS. This replaces the NHS Number for Babies (NN4B) service, which was decommissioned in early 2015.
  • If they are using a non-PDS compliant system, they will use the Birth Notification Application (BNA) to register the birth onto the PDS. The BNA replaces the former Interim NHS Numbering Service (INNS). This was decommissioned in early 2015.

Once the baby's birth has been registered, the PDS notifies the following services about the birth: child health services, the NHS newborn hearing screening service and the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Service benefits

The birth notification service:

  • fulfils legal requirements to notify a birth within 36 hours
  • ensures babies receive an NHS Number to support immediate and ongoing care
  • prevents errors and duplicate registrations
  • supports screening for new-borns and infants
  • enables information to be shared between health and care organisations and
  • enables births to be recorded accurately for population statistics.

The closure of NHS Numbers for Babies (NN4B)

In the past a service called NHS Numbers for Babies (NN4B) was used to allocate NHS Numbers. NN4B has been replaced with equivalent facilities that sit within the Personal Demographics Service, and on the Spine.

Users of the legacy NN4B system were migrated to the replacement services and NN4B was decommissioned.

Further information

internal NHS number

The NHS number helps health and social care staff and service providers match patients to their health and care records.

internal Birth Notification Application guide for maternity

This user guide is intended for maternity users of the Birth Notification Application (BNA). It provides guidance for when you need to submit a birth notification and receive an NHS Number for the baby (or babies). If needed, you may allocate an NHS Number for the mother.

Last edited: 14 September 2020 2:41 pm