NHS Number

Roger Hird rl.hird at orpheusmail.co.uk
Fri Jan 7 13:00:28 GMT 2011

This may be OT - but it may be relevant to some discussions in
this forum.  It is about NHS numbers and whether they need to be
treated as confidential.

I rang the 0800 helpline of a NHS national screening programme,
to query whether some results had been posted to me.  

They asked for my NHS number.  I started to quote the number I
have had since birth - a "number" of the form AAAA 123 - and was
told "that's an old number". My full name, date of birth and
postcode, however, allowed them to answer my query.  I asked how
I could track down my new number and they simply gave it to me
over the phone - it's now just a 10 figure number. I noted it was
a reference number my GP practice had been putting on their
letters to me but not identified as my NHS number. 

So I was given my NHS number by simply giving my full name,
address and date of birth. I could have quoted anything of the
right format as my "old" number.

As I remember it the NHS number base was not so long ago seen as
the nearest thing we had to a comprehensive national identity
database. Should not these numbers be treated with more care?
Mind you, I'm pretty sure no-one ever told me mine had even


Roger Hird
rl.hird at orpheusmail.co.uk
Website: http://roger.hird.orpheusweb.co.uk

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