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DBS/MACS and the NHS No.

The Health and Social Care (Quality and Safety) Act 2015 (the Act) requires that a consistent identifier is used for the delivery of health and adult social care to an individual. In practice this will be the NHS number. This requirement came into effect on 1 October.

The HSCIC currently provides two separate ways for NHS organisations and local authorities to access an individual's NHS number. These are the Migration Analysis & Cleansing Service (MACS) and Demographic Batch Service (DBS and part of the Personal Demographics Service). However the former will be withdrawn within the next 6 months.

This will mean that finding an individual's NHS number will be through one system. With the implementation of the Act there is likely to be increased demand for this service. In light of this there will be increased scrutiny of all applications to use the NHS number. This is because while there is a requirement that a consistent identifier is used across health and social care, the NHS Number can only be used for health and social care purposes and must not be used as a general identifier.

Within the next few weeks the HSCIC will be introducing a revised approach to ensure that all applications for use of the NHS Number are for legitimate purposes. In doing this we will ensure that both our legal obligations are met and at the same time continue to demonstrate to the public the care with which we look after their sensitive information.

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