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NHS number

Your NHS number is a unique number. It helps health and social care staff and service providers identify you correctly and match your details to your health and care records. Everyone registered with the NHS in England, Wales and the Isle of Man has their own number.

Getting your NHS number

When you register with a GP practice you'll receive a letter with your NHS number.

If you are not able to find your NHS number, you can use the Find your NHS number service or contact your GP practice for help. 

Benefits of using the NHS number

General practice

  • accurately links the patient to their record
  • enables transfer of patient records electronically using GP2GP
  • enables referrals using the NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS)
  • helps the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) send electronic prescriptions from GP surgeries to pharmacists
  • identifies patients in all contact with other health and social care providers

NHS trusts

  • helps create and maintain a complete record for each patient
  • enables patient information to be shared safely within and across organisational boundaries
  • allocating an NHS number to babies helps link their healthcare records for life

Social care organisations

  • accurately identifies service users
  • as the only national unique patient identifier, it helps create a complete record, linking every episode of care across health and social care organisations
  • safe and efficient coordination of social care with healthcare

Personal Demographics Service (PDS) database

Authorised NHS staff with a smartcard can access the Personal Demographics Service (PDS) database - this is the national online database for NHS patient information. It's used by NHS staff to identify patients.

Software developers interested in accessing patients' personal information in the PDS database, can learn more about our PDS FHIR API.


The standards for the NHS Number are set by ISB 0149: NHS Number.

Further information

internal NHS Number client

Find out about our simple client and java code library, designed to make it easier to model NHS Numbers in software.

internal Personal Demographics Service - FHIR API

Access patients' personal information, such as name, address, date of birth, related people, registered GP, nominated pharmacy and NHS number using the FHIR version of the Personal Demographics Service (PDS) API.

Last edited: 16 October 2023 4:55 pm