NHS national data opt-out programme privacy notice

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What is the national opt-out programme?

The NHS national data opt-out programme gives you the right to opt-out of your confidential patient information being used for reasons other than your individual care and treatment. These other reasons can be for research and planning purposes.

The definition of "patient", as contemplated by the national opt-out programme, specifically includes an individual who needs or receives local authority social care or whose need for such care is being assessed by a local authority.

Whenever you use a health or care service, such as attending Adult or Child social care services, important information about you is collected in an NHS record for that service. Collecting this information helps to ensure you get the best possible care and treatment.

The information collected about you when you use these services can also be used and provided to other organisations for purposes beyond your individual care, for instance to help with:

  • improving the quality and standards of care provided
  • research into the development of new treatments
  • preventing illness and diseases
  • monitoring safety
  • planning services.

This may only take place when there is a clear legal basis to use this information. All these uses help to provide better health and care for you, your family and future generations. Confidential patient information about your health and care is only used like this where allowed by law.

Data being used or shared for purposes beyond individual care does not include your data being shared with insurance companies or used for marketing purposes and data would only be used in this way with your specific agreement.


Health and care organisations have until the end of March 2021 to put systems and processes in place so they can apply your national data opt-out choice. The Council is able to apply your national data opt-out choice where there is a requirement to share confidential patient information with other organisations for purposes beyond your individual care.

You have a choice about whether you want your confidential patient information to be used in this way. If you are happy with this use of information you do not need to do anything. If you do choose to opt out your confidential patient information will still be used to support your individual care.

Most of the time, anonymised data is used for research and planning so that you cannot be identified in which case your confidential patient information isn’t needed.

To find out more or to register your choice to opt out, please visit the NHS website.

You can change your mind about your choice at any time.

Are there any exceptions? Click to get info

The following are exemptions from the national data opt-out.


The national data opt-out does not apply where explicit consent has been obtained from you for a specific purpose.

Communicable diseases and risks to public health

The national data opt-out does not apply to the disclosure of confidential patient information required for the monitoring and control of communicable disease and other risks to public health.

This includes any data disclosed where Regulation 3 of The Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulations 2002 provides the lawful basis for the common law duty of confidentiality to be lifted.  Public Health England oversees the use of this legal gateway on behalf of the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

Regulation 3 allows confidential patient information to be lawfully processed with a view to:

  • diagnosing communicable diseases and other risks to public health;
  • recognising trends in such diseases and risks;
  • controlling and preventing the spread of such diseases and risks;
  • monitoring and managing:
    • outbreaks of communicable disease
    • incidents of exposure to a communicable disease
    • the delivery, efficacy and safety of immunisation programmes
    • adverse reactions to vaccines and medicines
    • risks of infection acquired from food or the environment (including water supplies)
    • the giving of information to persons about the diagnosis of communicable disease and risks of acquiring such disease.

Overriding public interest

The national data opt-out does not apply to the disclosure of confidential patient information where there is an overriding public interest in the disclosure, i.e. the public interest in disclosing the data overrides the public interest in maintaining confidentiality.

Information required by law or court order

The national data opt-out does not apply to the disclosure of confidential patient information where the information is required by law or court order.

Our Data Protection Officer is Mark Hynes. You can contact him at Data.Protection@walthamforest.gov.uk.

Complaints Click to get info

If you need to complain about how we deal with your personal data, please see our complaints page, where you can complete the online form and find out what happens next.

If we’re unable to resolve your complaint to your satisfaction, you can make a complaint to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).