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Public health – access to the primary care mortality database and births data

Certain datasets are of significant value to the local authority in enabling the authority to respond to local public health needs.  Evaluations of births and deaths in their local area allows local authorities to perform the following:

  • Measuring the health, mortality or care needs of the population, for specific geographical area or population group
  • Planning, evaluating or monitoring health and social care policies, services or interventions; and
  • Protecting or improving the public health, including such subjects as the incidence of disease, the characteristics (e.g. age, gender, occupation) of persons with disease, the risk factors pertaining to sections of the population, or the effectiveness of medical treatments.

This guidance explains how public health intelligence manages your personal information contained in the Primary Care Mortality Database and births data and explains:

  • What is the Primary Care Mortality Database and births data
  • Who has access to the Primary Care Mortality Database and births data
  • What data is contained in Primary Care Mortality Database and births data
  • What we do
  • Type of information we receive
  • How we make sure your information is kept safe
  • Your rights
  • Further information
  • Contact details 

What is the Primary Care Mortality Database and births data?

The Primary Care Mortality Database holds mortality data as provided at the time of registration of the death along with additional GP details, geographical indexing and coroner details where applicable.  

The births data contains all births registered by Office for National Statistics to residents of the local authority.

At present the authority holds mortality data from 2006 onwards and is based on the 2011 census structures. The data files are updated on a monthly basis, on the second week of the following month. User access to the data is based on the Upper Tier Local Authority (LA) or Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) structures that they are responsible for. At present the authority holds births data from 2000 onwards.

Lancashire County Council has access to the Primary Care Mortality Database and ONS births data through the following legal gateways – Section 42(2) of Statistics and Registration Service Act (2007) as amended by section 287 of the Health and Social Care Act (2012) and Regulation 3 of the Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulation 2002.

Primary Care Mortality Database and births data is managed by NHS Digital and is accessed securely using Open Exeter via an N3 connection and the ONS births data is emailed to an approved analyst via a secure email.

Who has access to the Primary Care Mortality Database and births data?

Only approved public health analysts have access to the Primary Care Mortality Database and births data, which is stored in a secure location. This data is for use by Public Health analysts in Local Authorities and analysts in NHS Organisations who require deaths and births data for statistical purposes.

This data can be supplied under:

  1. a) Section 42(4) of the Statistics and Registration Service Act (2007) as amended by section 287 of the Health and Social Care Act (2012); and
  2. b) Regulation 3 of the Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulations 2002.

Even where access is granted, sharing of Patient Confidential Data obtained from the Primary Care Mortality Database and ONS births files cannot be passed onto any other organisation, including the NHS, unless that organisation will also be using it for public health statistical purposes and has completed the relevant forms for their organisation with approval from NHS Digital.

What data is contained in the Primary Care Mortality Database and ONS births files?

The Primary Care Mortality Database contains monthly and annual extracts of individual record level data on deaths supplied directly by ONS and includes:

  • A single linked dataset including registered GP/practice, coroner, patient details e.g. NHS number, date of birth, date of death, post code, age, causes of death and place of death.
  • Data that can be extracted by residence or GP practice registration.
  • The option to view by the CCG where the deceased was registered, or CCG area/ Upper Tier Local Authority where the person resided.

The ONS births data contains quarterly extracts of individual record level data on births and includes:

  • A single linked dataset including person's details e.g. NHS number, date of birth, birth weight, address, post code.

What we do?

We use the data provided in the Primary Care Mortality Database and ONS birth files to measure the health, mortality and overall care needs of the citizens of Lancashire. This data allows us to effectively plan public health initiatives in order to protect and improve the health of the citizens of Lancashire.

These datasets may also be used in conjunction with other datasets such as social care records and hospital activity, either alongside or directly linked to using unique key identifiers. The purpose of this work would be to obtain a clear system wide picture, which would enable us explore inequalities in health outcomes, identify communities in greater need of support and to develop services tailored to needs of the local population.

Types of information we receive?

  • The information contained within the Primary Care Mortality Database and ONS births files and processed by Lancashire County Council contains personal data.
  • Public health intelligence is also exploring to receive from NHS digital pseudonymised hospital activity data for all Accident and Emergency attendances and all hospital admissions.
  • Personal data is defined as data which relate to a living individual who can be identified from the data or from that data and other information held by the data controller (i.e. it can be linked to become identifiable). Personal data processed by the Public Health Intelligence team in relation to the Primary Care Mortality Database and ONS births files includes NHS Numbers, address, postcode and date of birth. Although these pieces of information viewed separately would not be classed as personal data viewed collectively the identity of an individual could be deduced.
  • Pseudonymised data is where personal identifiable data is replaced with artificial identifiers in order for Public Health staff to use the information without being able to identify any individuals.

How we make sure your information is kept safe

Everyone working in or with Public Health is under a legal duty to keep your electronic or paper records confidential and secure, whether storing, sharing or disposing of it.

Staff who are authorised to have access to the Primary Care Mortality Database, ONS birth files or other records have been trained in using those systems within the law and within rules applied by Lancashire County Council on data security and information sharing. All employees are aware of how to handle paper and electronic records securely.

Your rights

You have the right to request that the county council stops processing your personal data in relation to any service you are receiving from the council, their partners or their contractors. This however, may cause delays in the services we can provide and in some cases prevent the service from being provided.

You have the right to opt out of Lancashire County Council Public Health receiving, processing or holding your personal identifiable information. The process for opting out will depend on the specific data is and what programme it relates to. There are occasions where service providers will have a legal duty to share information, for example for safeguarding or criminal issues as such the process for opting out will depend on the specific data is and what programme it relates to.

For further information and to request that your data is not processed, please contact either the Information Governance team or the Public Health intelligence team using the contact details found at the end of this document.   

You also have the right to request a copy of any information the county council holds about you.

The county council will always strive to keep the information it holds as accurate as possible. If you find that this is not the case then you have a right to request that this information is corrected.

Further information

Lancashire County Council is a registered data controller with the Information Commissioner’s Office. You can search the register of data controllers (external link) to find out more about:

  • Reasons/purposes for which we process information
  • Type/classes of information we process
  • Who we process information about
  • Who we may share information with

For more details about data protection please refer to the Information Commissioner's Office website (external link).

You can also contact us if you would like to know more about how we use your information.

Contact details

Information Governance Team
Lancashire County Council
PO Box78
County Hall
Preston
PR1 8XJ

Email: dataprotection@lancashire.gov.uk

Telephone: 01772 531 115

For service specific question please contact:

Public Health Intelligence
Business intelligence
Christ Church Precinct
PO Box78
County Hall
Preston
PR1 8XJ

Email: BusinessIntelligence.publichealth@lancashire.gov.uk

Telephone: 01772 539 840