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If you are receiving support from Adults social care and health or children’s social care then the NHS may share your NHS number with us. This is so that the NHS and social care are using the same number to identify you whilst providing your care. By using the same number the NHS and Social Care can work together more closely to improve your care.
Your NHS number is accessed through an NHS service called the Demographic Batch Service (DBS). Adult Social Care sends basic information such as your name, address and date of birth to the DBS so they can find your NHS number. Once retrieved from the DBS the NHS number is stored on the Council’s Adult Social Care system which is called LAS and on the children’s social care system which is called LCS.
The NHS number is used in several ways, Firstly it allows for more efficient care from both social care and health partners as it allows for easier identification of a patient and service user being the same person. Secondly it allows our participation in the Child Protection Information System, which allows health partners to be aware if a child is subject to a protection order when they present in a health setting i.e. hospital. Thirdly it allows for the identification of you across multiple datasets from multiple sources meaning that your case workers can access pertinent information about your case quickly and efficiently.
The use of joined up information across health and social care brings many benefits. One specific example that has been widely publicised is hospital patients being discharged into social care. Without sharing of NHS Numbers delays in discharge (commonly known as bed blocking) can occur because details of social care involvement are not readily available to the staff on the hospital ward and details of hospital admissions are not known to social care. The linking of social care and health information via the NHS number will help hospital staff quickly identify if social care support is already in place and will allow social care to be aware of patients admitted to hospital that will need social care support. In this we are able to proactively deal with these patients minimising the number of delayed discharges.
The NHS number will also be used in referrals between social care and health partners. This brings the benefit of better co-ordinated and safe care across health and social care through the use of the unique identifier rather than a reliance on name and date of birth to identify a patient or service user.