Using the NHS number to share data - why and how?

A number of local areas have been criticised in Ofsted and CQC inspections for lacking robust data on children and young people with SEND. Such a lack of data limits their ability to commission effectively or to monitor outcomes.
In response a number of local areas have responded to this by developing data sharing solutions. Such solutions rely on a ‘unique identifier’ so data on the same group of people can be extracted from different sources. In a number of local areas the NHS number is chosen for this purpose and is then appended to the Education Health and Care (EHC) Plan.

However, there has been some anxiety expressed by other areas seeking to do this about how they ensure that they stay within data protection legislation when using the NHS number in this way.
This briefing seeks to set out how to ensure that those wishing to follow this approach stay firmly within the law.