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Your privacy on NHS Choices

Personal data collected

Navigation data
IP address and the website you came from

Personal information
Includes your first name, last name, email address, postcode and other personal information you provide.

Use of personal data

Analytics
Uses navigation data in services provided by NHS Choices and third parties. For more information see our cookies policy.  

Advertising
Some health campaigns are supplied with advertising data.

Personalisation
Uses navigation data and personal information to enable us, and third parties to tailor the services provided to you.

Symptom assessment
Personal information will be collected through the use of the Symptom checkers. This is necessary so that the correct assessment can be made, given the options you have selected through the tool.

Data sharing

We will never share personal information with any third parties without your consent. Navigation data is shared with trusted third parties providing analytics or advertising.

Our privacy policy 

The Department of Health is the Data Controller for NHS Choices under the Data Protection Act 1998. We will process your data in accordance with the Data Protection Act. The purpose of the privacy policy is to inform you as a user of NHS Choices about what information we collect when you visit the service, how we use the information, whether the information is disclosed and the ways in which we protect users' privacy.

We want you to feel secure when using the website and associated services. We are committed to respecting your privacy. Below we give an overview of how we do that.

How do we use your information?

We analyse information to see what is most effective about our website and associated services to help us identify ways to improve it and to make it more effective. We may also use information for other purposes, which we would describe to you at the point when we collect the information.

Personal information will be collected through the use of the Symptom checkers. This is necessary so that the correct assessment can be made, given the options you have selected through the tool.

What information do we collect when you use NHS Choices?

We collect information indirectly and directly.

When you use NHS Choices (www.nhs.uk), we use technology to collect information indirectly - such as your internet address. This is commonplace across all internet services to enable the investigation of issues such as malicious use. This information is then kept in our internet access logs.

We collect information directly from you in a number of ways. One way is by using cookies. Cookies are small files of information that save and retrieve information about your visit to our site, such as how you entered our site, how you navigated through the site and what information was of interest to you. This information is collected for a number of reasons, for example, to help develop the website and associated services.

The cookies we use identify you merely as a number. If you are uncomfortable about the use of cookies, you can disable them by changing the settings in the preferences or options menu in your internet browser. However, disabling cookies may affect our ability to provide services to you; if certain cookies are disabled you may not be able to access the service.

See our Cookies policy for more information on the cookies we use.

We also collect information when you give it to us. For example, you may register to use the message-posting facility called 'Patient feedback'. When we collect this type of information, we will notify you as to why we are asking for information and how this information will be used. It is completely up to you whether you provide it, but not providing information may affect our ability to provide services to you.

The social media bookmarking sites that NHS Choices links to are third-party sites and NHS Choices does control the way these sites use your information. If you choose to access these sites using the links provided, the operators of these sites may collect information from you that may be used by them in accordance with their privacy policies, which may differ from ours.

You should read their privacy policies carefully to find out what happens to any information that is collected by these services when you use them.

Videos from NHS Choices - whether viewed on the website, in emails or embedded in third-party sites - are supplied (streamed) to users by a third-party company, Brightcove. A product called TubeMogul is used by Brightcove to compile statistics for NHS Choices, such as what videos have been watched and when; it uses an anonymous tracking cookie and stores no personal data. For more information, see the Brightcove privacy policy and the TubeMogul privacy policy.

Use of NHS Choices tools on third-party sites will be tracked. No personal data is collected by the tools. Information gathered by NHS Choices includes the user’s IP address, the web page a tool is accessed from, and how many times it is accessed. In some cases, tracking is used to show user journeys through a tool. This information is the sole property of NHS Choices and will not be shared with third parties. All NHS Choices tools store the number of times a user has visited the tool. Some tools also store ‘state’ information so that when a user returns to a tool it is in the ‘state’ they left it in.

Information submitted as a part of NHS Choices content held on Twitter and Facebook will be subject to their privacy policies. For more information, see the Twitter privacy policy and the Facebook privacy policy 

How long do we hold this information?

We will hold the information for as long as we are providing you services. If you do not access the services provided by NHS Choices, for instance, open or click through one of the emails for more than a year, we will send you an email asking you to confirm that you wish to continue receiving NHS Choices emails. If you do not respond to this email within one month we will unsubscribe you.

We will remove all personal information we hold relating to you, which you registered with us, within six months of you unsubscribing from NHS Choices. We hold this information for a further six months following unsubscription, as we may need to use it for statistical analysis or if you choose to resubscribe. Be assured that if you unsubscribe you will not receive further information from us.

Will we disclose your information to, or share it with, other organisations?

As a government department, we do not share data with other organisations unless the law permits us to do so. We do not sell individuals’ information. We will share it only with our authorised Data Processors, who must act at all times on our instructions as the Data Controller under the Data Protection Act 1998. Before you submit any information, we will notify you as to why we are asking for specific information and it is up to you whether you provide it.

We may give you access to your information

You are entitled to know whether we hold information about you and, if we do, to have access to that information and require it to be corrected if it is inaccurate.

You can do this by contacting the Data Protection Officer, Department of Health, Skipton House, 80 London Road, London, SE1 6LH.  

Your data is kept under secure conditions

We take appropriate steps to maintain the security of your data on our service. The open nature of the internet means that data may flow over networks without security measures and may be accessed and used by people other than those for whom the data is intended. Our intention is that this should not happen and we take measures to ensure that it does not.

Page last reviewed: 10/07/2014

Next review due: 10/07/2016