Data extraction

Taking information from your medical records

The medical records that we keep about you are held on a computer server. We look after these records, to ensure they are accurate and are kept safe and private.

The NHS would like to take information about your health from these records so that it can be used for research, in order to improve health care and the way NHS services are organised. This will happen unless you let us know that you wish to opt-out.

First, the information will be taken and stored by the Health & Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). They will then supply some of the information to researchers.

This is likely to start happening in November 2013.


When the information is sent to HSCIC it will include some identifying information (though not your name). The only reason for this is to allow information about you from other sources (such as hospitals) to be added to the same record.

When HSCIC supply information to researchers it will not include any information that could identify you.

Opting out

If you wish you can refuse to allow the information to be taken by HSCIC, or to allow HSCIC to supply the information to researchers, or both. If you wish to do this, please let us know. We will put a special code on your record which will stop the information from being taken.

Should I opt out?

That is for you to decide. However, we think that in general it is a good thing to allow information about patients to be used in this way. It will allow researchers to discover which treatments and ways of organising care work best. This in turn will improve the care that patients receive in future. The information that the researchers receive will be completely anonymous. HSCIC will only use information that could identify you in order to match up records from your GP practice, hospitals and other organisations.

Further information

Dr G M Leuty, 11th September 2013

Update on data extraction of Fit Notes, December 2015:

Anonymised data on the use of fit notes is being provided to the HSCIC on behalf of Department of Health, and the Department for Work and Pensions. This will enable the Department for Work and Pensions to undertake research analysis to inform policy relating to employment and sickness absence, including evaluation of Fit for Work.

For further information, please click  here