The National Record Locator (NRL) is a national index of pointers to patient records. It enables an authorised clinician, care worker and/or administrator, in any health or care setting, to access a patient’s information to support that patient’s direct care.
The NRL works by acting as a registry by pointing, or bookmarking, to show a user that a patient record exists and where it is held. The user can then use the information held on the NRL to contact the organisation where the record is held to request more information, or directly retrieve the record if the users system is enabled to allow this.
To make sure a record can be located a provider organisation adds a pointer, or bookmark, to the NRL when the patient record is created at that organisation.
- a Provider (for example a care coordinator in a mental health trust) creates a medical record for a patient. At the same time as creating the record an "NRL pointer" can be automatically added to the NRL which points to or bookmarks the existence of this new medical record.
- by adding this pointer users in other organisations (Consumers), for example a paramedic out on call treating the same patient, can then search the NRL to understand more about the patient's care.
The NRL integrates patient record access across the NHS and Social Care without dictating where those records might be stored, thus realising a level of national interoperability across the service which has previously been unachievable.
NRL is NOT a central data store for patient records. It is an index that provides the location of records, the technical means to retrieve them, underpinned by an Information Governance (IG) framework to safely support sharing on a national scale.