Use of the NHS Number across the NHS
Your NHS Number is unique to you and is the only National Unique Patient Identifier used to help healthcare staff match patients to their health records. Everyone registered with the NHS in England and Wales has their own NHS Number.
Each NHS Number is a unique 10 digit number which is printed on NHS medical cards. An example of an NHS Number is 123 456 7890. An NHS Number used for patients’ care links all their records together, creating a fuller, more accurate health history for that patient.
Do I need my NHS Number to get care?
No, it is not essential to know your NHS Number, but it can sometimes be helpful if you are able to give it to NHS staff that need to find your health records.
What is my NHS Number?
Everyone registered with the NHS in England and Wales has their own unique NHS Number. Your NHS Number is printed on your medical card given to you when you register with a GP Practice. Your number helps healthcare staff to find your health records. Each NHS Number is made up of 10 digits, shown like this: 123 456 7890(this is an example number).
If you have an old medical card, it will have an old style NHS number made up of both letters and numbers. This has now been replaced for all patients by a new NHS Number made up entirely of numbers. Having the old-style NHS Number will not affect your care.
Is my NHS Number the same as my NI Number?
No, your NHS Number is different from your National Insurance (NI) number, which is used for tax and pensions.
How can I find out my NHS Number?
If you want to know your NHS Number, or you have an old style number and want to know your new one, please follow the instructions below.
If you are registered with a GP practice, you will already have an NHS Number
To find out your NHS Number you can contact your GP practice. To protect your privacy, they may ask you to show them a passport, driving licence or some other proof of identity.
If you are not currently registered with a GP practice, but think you already have an NHS Number
To find out your NHS Number, you can ask your local primary care trust (PCT) to look it up. To find out the telephone number for your nearest PCT visit the NHS Choices website - select 'Find your local Primary Care Trust' and enter your postcode.
Alternatively, you can call NHS Direct on 0845 4647.
If you have never registered with a GP practice, you will not have an NHS Number
When you register with a local GP practice, you will be given an NHS Number as part of registration. You can either go to a GP practice yourself to register or ask your local PCT to put you on the list of a local GP practice.
To find your nearest GP practice or PCT visit NHS Choices website - select ‘Find your local Primary Care Trust’ and enter your postcode. Alternatively, call NHS Direct on 0845 4647.
If you are visiting the country for less than three months
If you are a visitor, you will not be given a permanent NHS Number. More information on overseas visitors using the NHS is available here.
If you have recently had a baby
Babies born in hospital in England and Wales are given an NHS Number soon after birth. If your baby was born at home, you will receive an NHS Number when you register your baby’s birth.
Why is the NHS Number important to me?
Your NHS Number is unique to you. Using your NHS Number to identify you correctly is an important step towards improving the safety of your healthcare.
It also helps to reduce the creation of multiple records for a patient. Multiple records can cause a patient’s medical history to be held across many files, making it more difficult for hospital staff to access patients’ history efficiently.
If you know your NHS Number, or can show your medical card, you can help healthcare staff find your records more easily and share them safely with others who are caring for you.
As an added measure, you can start checking any post the NHS may send you to make sure they have the right NHS Number.
Where can I find further information on the NHS Number?
If you want to find out more about the NHS Number, please refer to the NHS Connecting for Health NHS Number website.