How Do I Find Out My NHS Number?

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Your National Health Service (NHS) number is a vital and unique number in the healthcare industry. The number will be yours for your entire life. However, under particular circumstances, you can get a different number. If you reside in the UK, you can access free medical care through the NHS, although it does not limit you from obtaining private health insurance.

More often than not, facts about your NHS number may not be general knowledge. In this article, we’ll delve into matters concerning the NHS numbering system, starting with what it is, why you should know your number and where you can locate it.

What Is an NHS Number?

Your NHS number is a unique 10-digit identification assigned to you after accessing NHS services. The number uses a 3-3-4 format and may look like this: 367 888 1234. The digit format replaces the old card system, which used a mix of letters and numbers. However, if you have an old medical card, you can still access NHS services.

The NHS number format uses an error-detecting checksum to calculate the final digit of your NHS number. NHS generates your number by multiplying the first nine digits by the number that results from subtracting the digit’s position from 11. Using the example above, the first digit 3 is multiplied by 10 (11-1), the second digit 6 is multiplied by 9 (11-2) and so on. The ninth digit is multiplied by 2 (11-9). The resulting numbers are then summed up and divided by 11 to ensure that the number is within the range of 0–10.

To obtain the checksum range, the number is then subtracted from 11. The final result will be the last digit of your NHS number. If your checksum amounts to 11, then the final digit of your NHS number will be 0. If the checksum amounts to 10, the NHS number is not valid.

Most people make the common mistake of confusing their National Insurance number with the NHS number. While both numbers may appear on your medical records, your National Insurance (NI) number is used for tracking your income and taxes. Your NI number is a mix of numbers and letters, and it has a prefix of two letters, a suffix of one letter and six numbers in the middle.

Notably, the NHS system is different from other healthcare systems. While other healthcare systems obtain funding through health insurance, NHS gets funding from taxation.

There are two primary ways of obtaining an NHS number. First, you automatically get an NHS number if you register for NHS healthcare in Wales, England or the Isle of Man. Additionally, you also get your 10-digit unique number when your birth is registered or after you’ve obtained medical services from the NHS.

Why You Should Know Your NHS Number

Knowing your NHS number is important. Your NHS Number helps healthcare staff to identify you, giving them access to your medical history. So, if you obtain medical care from different NHS facilities, your NHS number provides an accurate record of your diagnosis and prescriptions.

Additionally, having an NHS number has a wide range of benefits for NHS trusts, GPs and social care organizations. The number helps general practitioners transfer your patient records seamlessly and send electronic prescriptions to pharmacists.

If you need to seek medical services from a different provider, your GP will use your NHS number for referrals using the NHS e-Referral Service. For social care organizations, the number standardizes every episode of care you receive across different healthcare facilities.

Where Can I Find My NHS Number?

For NHS registered users, you can obtain your NHS number from one of the following places.

GP Practice

If you have a registration with a general practitioner (GP), they should have a record of your NHS number. To obtain it, you can simply call and request it. However, you may need to provide information to verify your identity. This could be your driving license or passport. You can also ask your local primary care trust (PCT) to retrieve the number for you.

Medical Letters and Documents

You can also trace your NHS number from documents you receive from the NHS. According to the NHS website, this includes:

  • Appointment letters
  • Hospital referral letters
  • Prescriptions
  • Test results

NHS Account

You can also access your NHS number if you have an NHS account. This also applies if you are 13 years or older or registered with a GP in England. Additionally, your NHS account also gives you access to different medical services and records, such as:

  • Managing and booking appointments
  • Obtaining an NHS COVID Pass
  • Obtaining health advice and information
  • Ordering repeat prescriptions
  • Viewing your health records

You can log into your NHS account from the NHS website or use the NHS app accessible on Android and iOS devices.

NHS Online Service

Using the NHS website, you can easily retrieve your NHS number. You will need to provide accurate details of your postal code, date of birth and name. If you are uncertain about your records, you can contact your GP surgery or local PCT.

Once you provide all the required information, you will receive your NHS number via text, email or a letter. Retrieving an NHS number on behalf of someone else is possible; however, you should note that the number will be sent to them and not you.