What is an NHS number and why do you need one?
The NHS number is a unique 10-digit number assigned to every individual registered with the NHS in England and Wales and is used as the national patient identifier.
Example of an NHS number: 123 456 7890.
How can you find out your NHS number?
Your NHS number should be on your medical card or on any letters concerning appointments from your GP, hospital, or any other medical practitioner.
Alternatively, you can request this information on NHS Choices.
What are the advantages of the NHS number?
- It links together all the episodes of care you have received.
- It ensures that doctors, nurses and other carers access the right patient records.
- It improves patient confidentiality – those in the NHS who don't need to know your name and address can identify your records using the number.
- It supports joined-up healthcare across the various services available to you. Thus, your hospital and your GP are sure that they are exchanging information about the same patient.
- It improves the accuracy of information used to manage the service.
What problems might arise from not having an NHS number?
Your doctor or nurse might look at the wrong records and your care may be confused with another patient.
This could lead to:
- inappropriate investigation or treatment
- inappropriate health advice
- appropriate investigation or treatment could be withheld
- appropriate health advice could be withheld.
Make sure you can clearly identify your NHS number on all letters from your GP, hospital or any other medical practitioner.
Whenever you come into hospital for an appointment, always confirm with the receptionist that the following details are correct:
- NHS number
- first name
- last name
- date of birth