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Primary Care Mortality Database

The Primary Care Mortality Database allows authorised users to access information regarding patient deaths.

The Primary Care Mortality Database (PCMD) allows authorised users to access mortality data provided at the registration of a death. This includes:

  • demographic details
  • cause of death
  • place of death
  • certifying GP details
  • coroner's details 

PCMD currently holds data from 1997 up until the most recent monthly data extract, based on the 2011 census structures. Monthly data is added by the second week of the following month. User access to the data is based on the upper tier local authority or the clinical commissioning group (CCG) structures they are responsible for.

The PCMD is managed by NHS Digital and is updated monthly using a file of death records from the Office for National Statistics being accessed via DARS.

Who the data is for

This data is for public health analysts in local authorities and analysts in NHS organisations who require deaths data for statistical purposes.

Legal access

This data can be supplied under both:

  • section 42(4) of the Statistics and Registration Service Act (2007) as amended by section 287 of the Health and Social Care Act (2012)
  • regulation 3 of the Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulations 2002

Even where access is granted, sharing of patient confidential data obtained from PCMD cannot be passed onto any other organisation, including the NHS, unless that organisation will also be using it for public health statistical purposes and has completed the relevant forms for their organisation with approval from NHS Digital.

Available data

The PCMD contains monthly and annual extracts of individual record level data on deaths supplied directly by the ONS and includes:

  • a single linked dataset, including registered GP practice, patient details and NHS number
  • data that can be extracted by residence or GP practice registration
  • the option to view by the CCG where the deceased was registered, or CCG/ upper tier local authority where the person lived

Access the service

Customers returning after the 2016/17 application

If you're a returning customer after the 2016/17 application, you'll no longer need to complete our forms.

However, you will now be required to log in to your DARS online account to renew your Data Sharing Agreement and make any updates to these forms. See our DARS pages for guidance.

Other applicants

You will need to complete the four forms below (3 ONS forms and the DARS form), but as a new applicant you need to apply directly through DARS. Please see the DARS process page for guidance. The forms need to be emailed to [email protected] in the first instance.

When filling in the DARS form, in Section 2: Summary, please select 'New' as the Agreement Type. In Section 3: Datasets held/requested, delete all the information in the first table for Data already held for this project/purpose.

To ensure your application is processed smoothly, you should you check that you have the following in place:

  1. Your organisation has a data sharing contract with NHS Digital (if not, then this can be set up)
  2. Information Governance Toolkit - this needs to be achieved at version 14 and at level 2 (satisfactory)
  3. A valid Data Protection Act (DPA) registration number
  4. A privacy notice explaining that data is being processed by your organisation in fulfilment of its public health function
  5. A secure email address (either an or a  address)
  6. An HSCN (N3) connection

Please do not edit the form fields, as they are used in the automated application process.

If you encounter any problems adding the scanned signatures to the forms then you can put the signatures in a separate document and send them alongside the forms. If you have any queries on how to complete the forms, then please contact us at [email protected] or call 0300 303 5678.

Please return completed forms to [email protected] before the end of July 2017.

Data Sharing Agreement

Once your application has been approved, the DARS team will electronically send you a Data Sharing Agreement to read through and sign-off. It is not until this is completed and signed by all parties that we are able to grant any access to data.


We will be carrying out data sharing audits to check that our customers are meeting the obligations in their Data Sharing Contract and Data Sharing Agreement.

Encryption of files at rest

A new requirement for access in 2016/17, as stipulated in the ONS Data Access Agreement form in section 10.8, is that record level data files are encrypted to AES 256 standard (meaning - password protected with WinZip V18.5 or later). This only applies to how files containing record level data must be stored at rest. Although a new requirement, this also applies to all record level mortality/births data obtained in previous years, as permission to retain data from previous years is dependent on adherence to the terms and conditions of the active data access agreements.

Contact details

To discuss any aspect of DARS or an existing application call the DARS team on 0300 303 5678 or email [email protected].

Last edited: 10 January 2022 9:15 am