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

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To protect you and our staff during the current outbreak of Covid-19 we’ve put in place significant restrictions on hospital visitors.

Full details of these can be found on our website.

We would like to thank you for your understanding and helping us stop the spread of Covid-19.

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