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Forget Me Not Children's Hospice

The 10-digit style NHS Number was introduced in 1996 specifically to support unique patient identification within the NHS. Whilst the presence of an NHS Number on all patient records, both paper and electronic, is now standard across the NHS, benefits are also being realised by independent care providers using the NHS Number.

A real life example of where NHS Number use is improving both staff efficiencies and patient care can be found at the Forget Me Not Children's Hospice in West Yorkshire. The hospice is an independent charitable organisation providing care for children with life-limiting and life threatening conditions and support for their families across the Kirklees, Calderdale and Wakefield areas of West Yorkshire.

The Forget Me Not Children's Hospice Michael Tatterton, Deputy Head of Care talked to us about how using the NHS Number has helped the hospice to provide children with faster access to treatment and care.

"Prior to starting with the hospice I worked as a nursing manager in children's specialist commissioning within the NHS where we started to use NHS Numbers routinely to support patient identification. Its use made correspondence between departments much more efficient, so I decided to introduce it to our service here at the hospice as we work so closely with NHS providers and commissioning services."

Identifying patients quickly and correctly

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 The NHS Number is the key to sharing patient infromation safely, efficiently and accurately between NHS organisations and its partners Michael says,"As a new service trying to establish our place within a comprehensive network of existing services, the use of the NHS Number, I feel, has demonstrated our credibility as a care provider. It shows that we are already using something that is critical to good patient recordkeeping and ensures that the children referred to us can be identified quickly and correctly.

"For example, when a child is referred to our service we contact all the professionals that have been involved in their care previous to their referral. This helps gain a comprehensive view of their needs to make sure the services we provide can be tailored specifically. Many of the professionals we contact work for the NHS in primary and secondary care."

Enabling faster access to patient care

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"We are unable to commence treatment until we have a complete picture of the health and social history of the child and their family; therefore we need this information to be returned to us as quickly as possible.

"To help speed up the process, we have always used as many identifiers as possible - names, dates of birth and addresses; however we have found after including the NHS Number on correspondence, responses are much more efficient saving two to four weeks – all the while, the child is unfortunately waiting.

"Four weeks is an incredibly long time for some of these children, therefore using the NHS Number to enable faster access to care really can make a significant difference."

Is your organisation using NHS Numbers?

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"If I had to give advice to care providers thinking about using the NHS Number as routine working practice, I'd say do it! Not only does the NHS Number provide an extra identifier, it is free and easy to use and has improved our efficiency significantly.

"As a service outside of the NHS we are not required to use NHS Number as standard, but the benefits speak for themselves - its use has been easy to implement and has saved us a job in creating a new number."

Printable version of this case study (PDF, 1.1MB) is available to download.

To find out more about The Forget Me Not Children's Hospice, visit www.forgetmenotchild.co.uk.

Have you a story to tell about NHS Number? Email us at nhsnumber@nhs.net.