The National Data Opt-Out

The National Data Opt-Out was introduced to give you, the patient a choice on how your confidential patient information is used for purposes beyond their individual care.

The information that the opt-out applies to is special category data as it includes information about your health care and/or treatment that has been collected as part of the care we provide for the patient.

As a patient you can set or change their National Data Opt-Out choice using an online or contact centre service. When you set a National Data Opt-Out it is in held in a repository on a national database against the patient’s NHS number.

In accordance with your wishes and National Data Opt-Out policy, we as a health and care organisation located in England, we are required to apply National Data Opt-Outs when applicable to a use or disclosure of confidential patient information for purposes other than your care or treatment.

Applying the opt-out to a data use/disclosure requires that we check, by using the NHS numbers of patients, whether a patient has registered an opt-out before the data is used/disclosed.

To do this a separate list of the NHS numbers in the data that is going to be used/disclosed needs to be created.

The list of NHS numbers is then submitted to the Check for National Data Opt-Outs service via the secure Message Exchange for Social Care and Health (MESH) messaging service. The Check for National Data Opt-Outs service is an external service provided by NHS Digital. The service checks the list of NHS Numbers against a list of opt-outs created from the repository on the NHS Spine, where a match is found it removes the NHS number from the list and then returns an updated list of NHS numbers (with opt-outs removed) back to us via MESH.

We then match the updated list of NHS numbers against our original set of data that was going to be used/disclosed and remove the entire record for those patient records where the NHS numbers match. This creates a ‘cleaned’ set of data with opt-outs applied that we can then use/disclose.

To find out more information about the National Data Opt-Out please visit