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  • Why information is needed

Why information is needed

Why information is needed

Health and social care information is used in the following ways.

To support your care

Each time you use health and social care services, the people looking after you will keep records of the care and treatment you receive. This information is held securely in your health and care records.

This information can then be used by the people who look after you so they can give you the best possible care and treatment. It is important to ensure that the right people have access to the right information at the right time so they can provide you with the right care.

To improve health and social care services for everyone

Information is used for purposes beyond your direct care:


The people who plan health and care services (commissioners) need good information about the types of illnesses people have and the treatments they receive, as well as the result of that care or treatment. They can then check to make sure that people are getting the services that are right for them.

Find out more about how sharing information in your medical records can help the NHS to provide better care in the information leaflet Better information means better care.

Find out more about commissioning in health and social care on the NHS England website.

Public health

Some information is used for public health. It lets the NHS look ahead and plan what to do if there are outbreaks of diseases. It also helps the NHS to take action now to stop problems from happening in the future.

Find out more about public health or visit the Public Health England website.


Information also helps to improve medicines and treatments for patients. Researchers study it to find better ways to prevent illness and treat conditions. Find out more about how information is used in health research in the National Institute for Health Research leaflet Your health records save lives.

In January 2014 leading medical research organisations, including Arthritis Research UK, Cancer Research UK, Diabetes UK, the British Heart Foundation and the Wellcome Trust,  launched an advertising campaign to raise awareness of the importance of sharing data from patient records with researchers.

Visit the websites of the following organisations for further information:

Clinical Practice Research Datalink

Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) is the English NHS observational data and interventional research service, jointly funded by the NHS National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). CPRD services are designed to maximise the way anonymised NHS clinical data can be linked to enable many types of observational research and deliver research outputs that are beneficial to improving and safeguarding public health.

National Institute for Health Research: Clinical Research Network

The Clinical Research Network supports high-quality clinical research in the NHS so that patients can benefit from new and better treatments, and we can learn how to improve NHS healthcare for the future. You can also find out how they are working with patients to ensure their needs are at the centre of all research activity.

Medical Research Council

The Medical Research Council is a publicly-funded organisation dedicated to improving human health. It supports research across the whole range of medical sciences in universities and hospitals, and their own units, centres and institutes.  

Association of Medical Research Charities

AMRC is a membership organisation of the leading medical and health research charities in the UK. The association works to support the sector's effectiveness, develop best practice, provide information and guidance, improve public dialogue about research and science, and influence government.

UK Clinical Research Collaboration

The UK Clinical Research Collaboration brings together the NHS, research funders, industry, regulatory bodies, Royal Colleges, patient groups and academia to facilitate and promote high quality clinical research for the benefit of patients.

Risk stratification

Health and care information can be used to identify who is most at risk of particular diseases and conditions, so those who plan care can provide preventative services and patients can be targeted with particular treatments. This is also known as risk stratification.

Invoice validation

Information is also used to make sure that NHS organisations receive the correct payments for the services they provide to individuals. This is also known as invoice validation.

If you have questions about how your health and care information is used for purposes beyond your care, check our frequently asked questions or call our patient information line on 0300 456 3531.

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