Patients registered with the national health service will not be able to prevent their basic demographic and contact details from being held within the NHS care records service (NHS CRS). The NHS has maintained registers of its service users from the earliest days of its existence to support the delivery of healthcare. A record is also kept of which general practice each patient is registered with, and reasons of efficiency and probity require this to be held centrally, for example to prevent multiple general practitioners from being paid for the same patient, and to ensure that the correct commissioning body meets the cost of care provided. A register is also needed to enable the Secretary of State to meet the obligation to provide healthcare, free at the point of contact, for those patients who are ordinarily resident in England.
While for these reasons it is not practicable to give patients choice about whether their demographic details will be held in the system, safeguards have been built into the NHS CRS personal demographics service (PDS) which allow an individual’s contact details to be hidden from NHS staff if patients request this level of protection. Access to the PDS is controlled by a member of staffs relationship with the patient, and by what they need to see to do their jobs, and is dependent on their having a current secure smartcard and a valid pass code.