Version 3.5, 4 November 2020
This minor update covers NHS App messaging which enables us to send public health announcements.
1. How we use your personal information
1.2 Our commitment to protecting your personal information
Whenever you provide personal information to a third party, that party is legally obliged to use your information in line with data protection law.
We take the security of your personal information seriously. We have set up security measures, policies and procedures such as:
- training all staff annually in data and security protection
- monitoring our platform to keep your personal information secure
- following good practice guidance provided by the National Technical Authority
- always using legally binding agreements with all organisations we use
- having security and confidentiality policies in place across the organisation, to which staff must agree before they are given access to personal information
- restricting access to personal information to only those staff who need access to perform their role
However, no software or application can be completely secure. If you have any concerns that your account could have been compromised (for example, someone could have discovered your password), follow the instructions on NHS App help and support.
- the services available via the NHS App and who is involved
- who the controller is for the personal data processed when you use the NHS App
- what information is collected about you
- what information is held about you and where that information is obtained
- how your personal data is used and why
- where your data is stored
- your rights
- points of contact for queries, objections and complaints
- Controller: "The person or entity which alone or with others determines the purposes or means or processing of personal data"
- Processor: "Any person or legal entity who processes personal data on behalf of the controller"
- Special Category Data: "Sensitive personal data given special consideration in data protection law including personal data about your health"
2. The NHS App services and who we are
The NHS App allows you to use the following services, depending on the level of NHS login identity verification.
With NHS login mid-level identity verification, you can:
- check your symptoms
- find out what to do when you need help urgently
- receive messages from NHS Digital including general communications, public health announcements, as well as updates relating to the NHS App and services available within it
With NHS login high-level identity verification, you can:
- use all the services available with NHS login mid-level identity verification
- book and manage appointments at your GP practice
- order repeat prescriptions, and select or change your nominated pharmacy from which you get them
- view your GP medical record securely
- send secure messages to your GP practice (if provided by your GP practice)
- register to be an organ donor
- choose how the NHS uses your data for research and planning purposes (feature not available through the Browser Version)
- use online consultation services if provided by your GP practice
- use personal health record services (if provided by your GP practice or hospital)
- manage your hospital referrals
The level of identity verification you have depends on your NHS login account. Find out more about NHS login.
The key organisations involved in the NHS App and their respective roles are as follows:
2.1 NHS England
NHS England leads the National Health Service (NHS) in England. It sets the priorities and direction of the NHS.
A lot of the work NHS England does involves the commissioning of healthcare services in England.
It commissions the contracts for GPs, pharmacists and dentists, and supports local health services led by groups of GPs called clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).
NHS England wants everyone to have greater control of their health and wellbeing, and to be supported to live longer, healthier lives.
NHS England has directed NHS Digital to collect certain personal data in relation to users of the NHS App. The legal directions are titled NHS Digital (Establishment of Information Systems for NHS Services: NHS App) Directions 2018 dated 27 September 2018.
2.2 NHS Digital
NHS Digital was set up by the Department of Health and Social Care in April 2013 and is an executive non-departmental public body that provides national information, data and IT systems for health and care services.
We exist to help patients, clinicians, commissioners, analysts and researchers.
Our goal is to improve health and social care in England by making better use of technology, data and information.
NHS Digital has been directed by NHS England to provide the NHS App and to include the services that can be accessed via the NHS App.
NHS Digital is also responsible for managing (as well as many other services):
- the national data opt-out, which allows patients to state their data sharing preferences (Native Version only)
- the NHS.UK website, which provides health information
- NHS 111 online, which allows patients to get triage advice based on their symptoms online
All of these services are available through the NHS App.
NHS Digital also provides a public-facing service desk for user queries relating to the functionality of the NHS App and the NHS login service (formerly called 'Citizen Identity').
2.3 GP practices
GP practices provide primary care services to the public.
As part of the NHS App, GP practices can enable their patients to see their medical information, book appointments, order repeat prescriptions, send secure patient to practice messages, and select or change their nominated pharmacy.
GP practices may also provide additional services such as online consultations and personal health record services, and will normally engage a specialist organisation to provide these additional services on their behalf. Your GP practice remains in charge of your personal information and decides what health information from your health record, appointments and prescriptions is displayed to you.
3. Personal data - who controls its use
The organisation that is the controller or processor of your personal data will depend on the service to which it relates. For example:
3.1 Providing and managing the NHS App
NHS England describe, in a legal direction to NHS Digital, what personal data is required to provide and manage the NHS App. For example, user registration details and audit data. NHS England and NHS Digital are joint controllers for this personal data.
3.2 Using the services available through the NHS App
If users wish to use the NHS App to access a service, then the organisation that controls your personal data is responsible for managing access. For example, to view your GP practice records, then your GP controls this.
If you wish to log in to an online service linked to through the NHS App then NHS Digital will, with your consent, provide your login details to the online service you wish to use i.e. you can use the details stored by NHS Digital to save you time completing their online form (or you can enter the details yourself if you so wish).
The table below lists different situations and which organisation(s) control the personal data in each situation. In some situations, there is more than one controller. To find out more about the information falling within each of the below categories, see section 5, "What information we collect about you and how it is used".
|Category of information||Controller(s)||Processor(s)|
|NHS App audit data||NHS England; NHS Digital||N/A|
|NHS App mailing list membership(s)||NHS England; NHS Digital||Contracted bulk emailing and list management service provider|
|NHS App messaging||NHS England; NHS Digital||N/A|
|NHS App performance data||NHS England; NHS Digital||Contracted analytics service providers|
|NHS App service desk information||NHS England; NHS Digital||N/A|
|NHS App service desk feedback & surveys||NHS England; NHS Digital||N/A|
|NHS Login account information||NHS England; NHS Digital (a separate service from the NHS App)||N/A|
|Your data sharing preferences (only in the Native Version)||Department of Health & Social Care; NHS Digital (a separate service from the NHS App)||N/A|
|Information inputted into 111 Online symptom checker service||NHS Digital (a separate service from the NHS App)||N/A|
|Information within your GP medical record||Your GP (as custodian of your records)||NHS Digital|
|Information relating to GP appointments||Your GP||NHS Digital|
|Information relating to the repeat prescription service and your nominated pharmacy||Your GP; Your pharmacist||NHS Digital|
|Information relating to patient to practice messages||Your GP||NHS Digital|
|Organ donation preferences||NHS Blood and Transplant||NHS Digital|
|Information inputted into NHS.UK||NHS Digital (a separate service from the NHS App)||N/A|
|Online consultation responses||Your GP||NHS Digital; a contracted Online Consultation Provider|
|Information in personal health records not supplied by you||Your GP or hospital(s)||A contracted personal health records provider|
|User research panel membership & survey responses||NHS England; NHS Digital||Contracted survey service provider|
|Hospital referral information||NHS England; NHS Digital||N/A|
When organisations are engaged to process your personal information on behalf of a different controller organisation, there will always be a contract in place. These processor organisations must have agreed to keep your information secure and only use it for the purpose they have been instructed to.
4.1 Passwordless authentication
Registered users of the NHS App are able to use the passwordless authentication feature if their mobile phone supports this. This feature is not available through the Browser Version of the NHS App.
Passwordless authentication is voluntary and does not stop you using your existing method to access the NHS App. Passwordless authentication is based on technology in your device. Your device may support passwordless authentication using different types of biometric data, including fingerprint and facial recognition. We do not have access to or control over the biometric data stored on your device.
The NHS App performs passwordless authentication against NHS login in accordance with the Fast Identity Online (FIDO) standard.
4.2 Nominated pharmacy
Registered users of the NHS App are able to select, view and change their nominated pharmacy to which their electronic prescriptions are sent. This feature is only available if your GP practice has enabled it.
As a result of changing your nominated pharmacy, your personal information needed to verify and dispense your electronic prescription will be shared with the selected pharmacy. Find out more about electronic prescriptions.
4.3 Proxy access
Note: you cannot create new proxy access relationships through the NHS App. To create new relationships or change existing ones, please contact your GP practice.
You are responsible for any personal data that you access on behalf of the person you are using proxy access in respect of, and must keep it safe and secure.
You must, to the extent possible bearing in mind their age, condition and capacity:
- make the person you are using proxy access on behalf of aware of, and seek their consent to, your proxy access and any steps you take on their behalf
4.4 View medical record documents
Where available, if a GP practice has permitted access to files (sometimes called letters) attached to your medical record or that of a person you are using proxy access on behalf of, you will be able to view and download these files through the NHS App.
Once downloaded it is your own responsibility to keep the files secure. If you use a shared computer or mobile device to access the NHS App, make sure you delete any downloaded files when you are finished.
4.5 NHS App messaging
NHS App messaging enables us to send you general communications, public health announcements, as well as updates relating to the NHS App and services available within it. These messages are not personalised messages or specific to you or your care. You cannot use this feature to send messages (to NHS Digital or to your GP) or reply to these messages.
4.6 NHS App notifications
You can choose to activate push notifications to alert you to receipt of NHS App messages. You can opt out of push notifications at any time. Messages will continue to be sent and available via the NHS App whether or not push notifications are activated. This functionality may differ from device to device. If you use the NHS App across more than one device push notifications must be enabled on each one.
4.7 User research panel and surveys
We would like to contact you about taking part in user research to improve the NHS App and connected services. We will ask you if you would like to join our user research panel when you register for the NHS App or on a subsequent login. If you choose to do so, we will email you a short survey to fill in about you and your health. Your answers will help make sure we invite you to user research that is relevant to you.
When you have signed up, we may ask you to:
- try new features
- answer more questions by email
- talk to our researchers about your experience of using the NHS App or connected services
You can always say no to an invite, and you can leave the user research panel at any time.
We will only use your information to contact you about the NHS App user research panel. It will not be shared with anyone else. You can unsubscribe at any time by selecting the unsubscribe link in any surveys we send you or by contacting the NHS App team.
5. What information we collect about you and how it is used
The information processed for the purposes of the NHS App can be split into a number of different categories.
Details of the information and personal data falling within each of the categories where NHS Digital is the controller are set out below.
|Category of information||Personal data||Special categories of personal data|
|NHS App audit data||Information captured against your NHS Number about your use of the NHS App, such as the time of use, actions you took using the NHS App, and associated technical log events.||None|
|NHS App performance data||IP addresses are transmitted to Adobe Analytics and Hotjar as part of performance data but are not stored so users cannot be identified.||None|
|NHS App messaging||We send bulk messages and use your NHS App account to do this.||None|
|NHS App mailing list membership(s)||We contract a specialist organisation to send out bulk emails and manage our lists of email subscribers. We use only your email address and mailing preferences needed to operate this service.||None|
|NHS App service desk feedback & surveys||The personal data you provide if you provide feedback such as responding to one of our surveys.||None|
|NHS login account information||If you're a new user of the NHS App, you may be asked to provide additional information, such as your NHS number or a picture of your passport, to set up a new NHS login account with high-level identity verification. As a registered user, login information consisting of your email address and password will be processed to enable you to use the NHS App. Logins to the NHS App are managed by NHS login, a separate NHS Digital service. Find out more about NHS login||Yes|
|Your data sharing preferences (only in Native Version)||Personal data provided in order to identify you and retrieve or set your data sharing preferences.||None|
|111 Online symptom checker service||Personal data will only be captured if you elect to have 111 Online contact you, otherwise the symptoms you enter will be anonymous.||Health data (symptoms information entered in response to questions, but only if contact information is provided, otherwise anonymous)|
|Information inputted into NHS.UK||Personal data will only be captured if you elect to provide it, otherwise your use of NHS.UK will be anonymous.||None|
|User research panel membership & survey responses||Personal data will only be captured if you elect to provide it as part of participating in user research relating to the NHS App.||We will ask general questions about your health and background in order to ensure we are inclusive in our research.|
|Hospital referral information||Personal data will only be captured if you elect to provide it as part of using the Manage Your Referral service.||None|
6. How NHS Digital uses your personal data and why
The processing of your personal data is necessary to provide you with NHS App services and ensure the functionality of the NHS App works.
The organisation that is the controller and/or processor of your personal data will depend on the information in question.
We may need to share your personal information if we are required to do so by law.
6.1 Personal data for which NHS Digital is the controller within the scope of the NHS App
|Category of information||Legal basis for using this data||Retention period|
|NHS App audit data||Legal obligation – processing is necessary for compliance with the legal obligation to which NHS Digital is subject||8 years after the audit event occurred|
|NHS App mailing list membership(s)||Your consent specifically provided when you opted to join a mailing list||Varies depending upon which mailing list you are joining|
|NHS App messaging||Legal obligation - processing is necessary for compliance with the legal obligation to which NHS Digital is subject||12 months|
|NHS App service desk information||Legal obligation – processing is necessary for compliance with the legal obligation to which NHS Digital is subject||12 months|
|NHS App performance data||Your consent via acceptance of our cookies policy||12 months|
Where this data is stored and processed
We only store and process your personal data within the UK and European Economic Area (EEA).
6.2 Personal data for which NHS Digital is the controller outside the scope of the NHS App
In respect of certain connected services NHS Digital has a role outside the scope of the NHS App as NHS Digital also provides these services. They are separate from the NHS App and subject to their own privacy policies which you should read before use.
|Category of information||How the data is used and handled|
|Your data sharing preferences (Native Version only)||See the National Data Opt-out Service privacy notice|
6.3 Personal data for which NHS Digital is the processor only
The table below provides a number of links and explains who you need to contact if you have queries regarding a particular service or the use of your information.
|Information relating to the repeat prescription service and your nominated pharmacy||Contact your GP practice and pharmacist for copies of their privacy policies.|
|Organ donation preferences||This service is managed by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), which is separate from NHS Digital. Find out more about NHSBT.|
|Online consultation responses||This service is contracted by your GP practice with an online consultations provider. Find out more about online consultation services.|
6.4 Personal data for which NHS Digital is neither the controller or processor
In respect of certain connected services, NHS Digital's role is simply enabling you to access the services in the same format as the NHS App. NHS Digital is neither the controller nor processor for personal data that you submit or view in such connected services. Such services are separate from the NHS App and subject to their own privacy policies which you should read before use.
|Information in personal health records (whether supplied by you or not)||This service is contracted by your GP practice or hospital with a personal health records provider. Find out more about personal health record services.|
7. Your rights
Data protection laws provide a number of rights to you. These rights are listed below.
You can exercise your rights by contacting the appropriate controller.
If you wish to contact NHS Digital, please use the contact details at the bottom of this page.
The personal data NHS Digital holds as a controller within the scope of the NHS App is limited to:
- NHS App audit data
- NHS App mailing list membership(s)
- NHS App messaging data
- NHS App service desk information
- NHS App service desk feedback and surveys
- NHS App performance data
- User research panel membership and survey responses
Your rights applicable to audit data, mailing list membership(s), NHS App messaging data, service desk information, service desk feedback and surveys, and user research panel membership and survey responses are:
- to know how your data will be collected, processed and stored, and for what purposes
- to withdraw your consent, which applies to your participation in user research panel membership, survey responses and unsubscribe to mailing list membership
- to request a copy of your personal data
- to correct your personal data errors or omissions
- to data portability - this means you can obtain a copy of your data in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format (applies only to your participation in user research panel membership, survey responses and to mailing list membership)
- to request we delete your personal data (only applies for mailing list membership(s), NHS App service desk feedback and surveys, and user research panel membership and survey responses)
- to request we restrict our use of your personal data (for example, if you think it's inaccurate and needs to be corrected before it's used)
You can also manage the NHS App performance data ("analytic cookies"). See NHS App cookies policy for details on how to do this.
8. Points of contact for queries
If you have any queries in relation to the use of your personal data within the NHS App, or about the NHS App generally, refer to the table below to find out where to direct your query.
|Query||Who do I contact?|
|Queries about the content of your medical records and/or the medical records you can view via the NHS App||Your GP surgery|
|Queries about your healthcare, such as GP appointments or repeat prescriptions||Your GP surgery|
|Queries about your ordered prescriptions or nominated pharmacy||Your GP surgery or pharmacist|
|Queries about the NHS App functionality and how to use the NHS App||See our help and support page|
|Queries about login information or issues||See our help and support page|
|Queries about the 111 symptom checker service||See our help and support page|
|Queries about the NHS.UK website||Contact us|
|Queries about your data sharing preferences||See the National Data Opt-out Service privacy notice|
|Queries about your organ donation preferences||See NHS Blood and Transplant's organ donation FAQ|
|Queries about your online consultation responses||Your GP surgery. NHS England (if applicable). See online consultation services for details.|
|Queries about personal health record services||Your GP surgery or hospital(s); a contracted personal health records provider. See personal health record services for details.|
|Queries about user research panel memberships and survey responses||See our help and support page|
|Queries about hospital referral information||See our help and support page|
9. Objections and complaints about the NHS App
We will investigate and attempt to resolve any data privacy objections and complaints relating to the NHS App.
We will make every reasonable effort to allow you to exercise your rights as quickly as possible and within the timescales provided by data protection laws.
You can contact our Data Protection Office to make a complaint:
Information Governance Compliance Team
1 Trevelyan Square
We ask that you try to resolve any issues with us first, although you have a right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) at any time about our processing of your personal information.
The ICO is the UK regulator for data protection and upholds information rights.
10.1 Previous versions
- Version 3.4, 26 October 2020 - This minor update covers the integration of the ‘Manage Your Referral’ Connected Service for managing hospital referrals.
- Version 3.3, 6 October 2020 - This minor update covers registering for the user research panel to help us improve the NHS App and connected services.
- Version 3.2, 28 May 2020 - This minor update reflects notification services being made available in the NHS App.
- Version 3.1, 12 May 2020 - This minor update reflects messaging services being made available in the NHS App.
- Version 3.0, 30 March 2020 - This minor update reflects personal health record services being made available in the NHS App.
- Version 2.9, 3 March 2020 - This minor update covers nominating a pharmacy and patient to practice messaging.
- Version 2.8, 17 February 2020 - This minor update covers proxy access and viewing documents in GP medical records.
- Version 2.7, 10 January 2020 - This minor update reflects the release of proxy access and viewing documents in GP medical records.
- Version 2.6, 28 November 2019 - This minor update covers the use of a service to manage user research panel membership and surveys.
- Version 2.5, 14 November 2019 - This minor update reflects the release of new features for online consultations, changing your nominated pharmacy and accessing the NHS App through a web browser.
- Version 2.4, 29 May 2019 - This minor update clarifies that "NHS App audit data" also includes associated technical log events.
- Version 2.3, 30 April 2019 - This minor update clarifies that we may securely share NHS App service desk information, which can include personal data, with other NHS organisations who provide "Connected Services" to diagnose and resolve technical problems.
- Version 2.2, 20 February 2019 - This minor update covers the introduction of a new passwordless authentication feature in the section entitled "Personal data". It also covers bringing data retention periods in line with NHS Digital policies in the section entitled "Personal data for which NHS Digital is the controller within the scope of the NHS App".
- Version 2.1, 19 December 2018 - This minor update adds a clarification regarding data processing locations.
- Version 2, 18 December 2018 - Significant update for the app's public release in the Apple and Google Play stores.
- Version 1, 26 September 2018 - Original version for the app's private beta release.