There is a growing desire to have a unique identifier to ensure efficiency and accuracy of data sharing across Social Care and Education. The use of the NHS number as a unique identifier (as enabled by the Health and Social Care (Safety and Quality) Act 2015) is well established between adult health and social care settings, but is more complicated for those under 18 as the Act does not cover children’s social care and education services data.
However, it is possible to share data across these services it is simply important to be clear about the legal basis on which you are doing so.
Inclusion on an EHC Plan
The Information Governance Alliance has produced a briefing which addresses the contexts in which the NHS number should be used in health and social care organisations and environments as a unique identifier. The briefing gives examples of appropriate care contexts outside of the NHS where the use of the NHS Number is supported by Government policy, two examples given are:
• Adult’s and Children’s Social Care – NHS number can be added to all active records. This is legally required for adult social care records and strongly recommended for children’s records.
• Pre-School and School services to support children with health conditions (e.g. Special Educational Needs and Disability - SEND)
‘The purpose of an EHC plan is to make special educational provision to meet the special educational needs of the child or young person, to secure the best possible outcomes for them across education, health and social care.’ (SEND Code of Practice)
Adding the NHS Number to an EHC Plan will support the measurement of the outcomes included in and central to the EHC plan. Local areas may have additional reasons related to effective and appropriate provision of services across multiple agencies which would enable them to demonstrate that inclusion of the number on a plan meets a direct care need.