Care of patients with anonymised SUS submissions

Dr Neil Bhatia made this Freedom of Information request to NHS Digital

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear Health and Social Care Information Centre,

Thank you very much for all your previous FOI responses.

I would like to make further a request under the FOI Act.

For the purposes of the Act, please take the date of your receipt of this request as 18th November 2013.

I am interested in the requirements that hospital trusts would make upon patients who wish for their SUS data to be anonymised before sending (as I believe is their right), and who inform their provider of this request.

I am aware of HSCIC guidance on the matter:

and that hospital trusts already routinely perform this data anonymisation prior to submission of sensitive records to SUS.

I am referring to patients who simply with to exercise their right for their data to not be used for secondary purposes (i.e. sent to SUS, and thereafter to HSCIC) except unless completely anonymised.

Whilst I fully understand that the trust must appropriately verify the patient's identity before progressing with their request, please could you provide me with any further guidance that the HSCIC has issued to providers as regards the care of such patients (who have requested anonymisation of their SUS data sent to the warehouse).

For example:

• Do such patients have to provide a letter of Prior Authorisation from the patient’s Commissioning GP Organisation (the CCG), guaranteeing they will pay for the activity, with the onus being on the patient and their GP to arrange this prior authorisation from the CCG?

• Do such patients have to write to the trust's Corporate Data Department (or equivalent) prior to each attendance and request their data be removed from submissions to SUS? If so, how would this work for unscheduled or emergency attendances?

• And if patients do not wish - or do not feel that it is their obligation - to perform these written requirements, is the trust entitled to refuse to provide them with medical care unless they elect to be treated as a private patient?

As far as I am aware, such "requirements" are not imposed on patients who have sensitive records and whose data is fully anonymised prior to submission to SUS.

And as far as I am aware, any matters relating to the subsequent sorting of PbR for any episodes of care (planned or unplanned) for such patients (or any patients, for that matter) do not involve the patient needing to contact their GP or CCG. It would surely be a matter between the trust (billing), the CCG (paying) and the GP (verifying).

As per Section 1(4) of the FOI Act
( ) I would like the information in question held at the time when my request is received (draft or otherwise), except that account may be taken of any amendment or deletion made between now and the latest time by which the information is to be communicated to me, being an amendment or deletion that would have been made regardless of the receipt of my request.

I would be grateful if you would be kind enough to send me the requested information promptly and in any event not later than the twentieth working day following the date of receipt of my request.

I wish to receive the information by email; I believe such a request would be reasonable in these circumstances. As per Section 11 of the FOI Act ( ) I would be grateful if you would "so far as reasonably practicable give effect to that preference"; if you determine that it is not reasonably practicable to comply with this preference then you are required by law to notify me of the reasons for your determination. As per the Act, I have provided you with a valid return address, namely the unique email address that this request originates from.

If my request is denied in whole or in part, or specific items within the responses are withheld from disclosure, then you must justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act, as per Section 17 of the Act
( ). Where you rely on a qualified exemption to withhold disclosure, you are obliged to consider the public interest in your decision and the refusal notice must explain not only which exemption applies and why, but also the public interest arguments addressed in reaching the decision.

I would be grateful if you would kindly acknowledge receipt of this request as recommended by the ICO (“It would be good practice to acknowledge receipt of requests and to refer to the 20 working day time limit, so that applicants know their request is being dealt with”).

Thank you very much once again.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Neil Bhatia

Enquiries CRM,


Ref: NIC-234215-N0Q0B




Dear Neil Bhatia,


I am writing to acknowledge that your request for information was received
by The Health and Social Care Information Centre  on (18/11/2013) and is
currently being considered. 

If The HSCIC is able to provide you with the information you have
requested, then under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act you are
entitled to receive it promptly and in any event no later than the 20th
working day following the date of receipt. However, we may need to contact
you to clarify your request, if this is required we aim to do this
promptly but no later than 7 days after receiving your initial request for


May I take this opportunity to explain the FOI Act in more detail. The Act
provides a 'General right of access to information held by public
authorities. However, it also defines a number of exemptions which may
prevent the release of some or all of the information you have requested.
Therefore, the HSCIC will assess your information request in light of any
relevant exemptions.


If exemptions do apply, then the HSCIC may decide not to release all, or
part, of the information you have requested. I shall inform you if this is
the case, and advise you of your rights of appeal.


If the information you request contains reference to a third party then
they may be consulted prior to a decision being taken as to whether to
release the information to you.


The response to your request will be sent to you by email, however if you
require your response in any other format, please contact me to discuss a
suitable format.


The HSCIC will not normally charge a fee to provide you with the
information you have requested, unless the cost of dealing with your
request is more than £450 as outlined in Section 12 of the FOI Act and
Section 3 of the The FOI and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees)
Regulations 2004. If it appears likely that your request will cost more,
then the HSCIC is able to refuse to supply the information.  As per our
obligations under Section 16 of the FOI Act, every effort will be made to
provide you with details of how you may be able to reframe your request in
order for us to complete the required work within the (£450 / 18 person
hours) cost limit.


If you have any queries or should you wish to make a compliant about the
manner in which your request is being processed then please do not
hesitate to contact me at the above address in the first instance. Any
complaints will be investigated in accordance with the HSCIC complaints


Further information about your rights under the Freedom of Information
Act, is available from the Information Commissioner's Office, Wilmslow,
Cheshire and on the HSCIC's website.


Kind Regards,

Contact Centre Team
Health and Social Care Information Centre
Vantage House
40 Aire Street

0845 300 6016
Email: [1][HSCIC request email]

show quoted sections

Enquiries CRM,

1 Attachment


Ref: NIC-234215-N0Q0B

Dear Neil,

Please see the attached response from our Information Governance team. 

I hope this helps, if you require any further information please do not
hesitate to contact us.

Kind Regards,

Matthew West

Contact Centre Team
Health and Social Care Information Centre
1 Trevelyan Square
Boar Lane

0845 300 6016
Email: [1][HSCIC request email]


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1. mailto:[HSCIC request email]

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