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

Demographics

The Personal Demographics Service (PDS) is the national electronic database of NHS patient details such as name, address, date of birth and NHS Number, which includes demographic information.

The Personal Demographics Service

The PDS helps healthcare professionals to identify patients and match them to their health records. It also allows them to contact and communicate with patients in a number of ways, including by text and email.


An NHS record starting at birth

Your record in PDS begins at birth. New births are registered on PDS via the Birth Notification Service which 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.


Updating the information held by PDS

Healthcare professionals can make updates to the information stored on the PDS database, an essential part of the NHS Spine. We are currently looking at a number of ways in which patients can update their own contact details, such as email address and phone number, when required. 

More reliable, up-to-date patient contact information being held on the PDS will help alleviate the administrative workload for GPs and other healthcare professionals and provide a more reliable source of information for them to use.

Longer term this could result in fewer missed healthcare appointments with reminders and referrals more likely to reach the person they are meant for in a timely and low-cost way.


Demographics transformation

We are currently looking at a number of ways to improve the data held by the NHS. This includes enabling the public to supply information themselves.

Encouraging the public to take ownership of their contact information stored in PDS, update their contact details when required and in the way they choose, will provide a more reliable source of information for health and care professionals.

In the longer term this has the potential to reduce the number of missed appointments across healthcare settings, with reminders reaching the people they are intended for in a swift and low-cost way.


Add or correct your contact details service

We are currently running a pilot asking people to update the contact information we hold in our PDS database. Members of the public may receive a text or email to request that they check/update their contact information in their NHS record.

They may receive this request if:

  • the email address or phone number is missing
  • the email address and/or phone number has missing or additional digits or characters
  • they do not match other details recently supplied to an NHS service, for example the book a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination service


Modernising GP registration

The GP bureaucracy review 2020/21 identified registering with a GP as an intensive, high volume data entry process for general practice to administer.

A joint NHS England and NHS Digital work programme is designing and developing a new registration service model across England. The Register with a GP surgery service will provide all practices with an integrated online option for their patients.

We are working with a growing number of practices to offer online registration to their patients and thousands of successful registrations have now taken place.

The online solution will help reduce the administrative burden for general practice and improve accessibility for patients. The non-digital option will continue to be available.


Improving the quality of address updates

We are currently testing improvements to the way that address updates are stored in PDS.


Master Person Service

The Master Person Service (MPS) is a person-matching algorithm that takes the demographic information contained in a person’s health and care records and matches it to their unique NHS number to confirm their identity.


NHS digital services open data dashboard


Contact us

For issues relating to PDS please contact the Personal Demographics Service National Back Office.

For more information about our demographics transformation pilots please contact: nhsdigital.demographicstransformation@nhs.net.


Related information

Last edited: 24 December 2022 2:21 pm