What is National Health Insurance (NHS) Number?
National Health Insurance number, commonly known as NHS Number, is a unique number allocated to you at the time of birth and is later mapped with your medical records on a national patient database. It is also termed as patient identifier number. You get your NHS number at the time of your birth or when you contact NHS by registering with a general practitioner.
So, NHS number can be defined as a national unique identifier that makes it possible to share patient information across the whole of the NHS safely, effectively and accurately. National Health Insurance Number is issued by National Health Service (NHS), which was founded by the Labour Party on 5th July 1948. It had three core principles: i) it should meet need of everyone ii) it should be free at the time of delivery iii) services should be based on the clinic requirement, not on the ability to pay.
It provides the majority of healthcare in England, which includes primary care, in-patient care, long-term healthcare, ophthalmology and dentistry. Each of UK’s four nations, i.e. England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland has their individual NHS, each having their own history and logo. NHS in Northern Ireland is known as Health and Social Care (HSC) and is separate from NHS in Wales, which was earlier combined with NHS in England but was later handed over to the Welsh Executive and Assembly in 1999. NHS number issued in England and Wales is called as NHS whereas an equivalent number of NHS in Scotland and Northern Ireland is called as CHI number.
What is the format of NHS Number?
During its early days, NHS number was a combination of letters and digits for England and Wales i.e. JRDAN 245 whereas NHS number in Scotland was a combination of letters and digits, which was further identified within the household i.e. STUV123:3.However, this system was not an ideal system because it was hard to validate a specific number and was replaced by the modern style of NHS number, which was introduced in 1996 although it was made mandatory on 1st April 1997.
The new format of NHS system is ten numeric digits in length ten digit numbers in a 3-3-4 format, with the final digit is called as the check digit and is used to confirm its validity. The check digit is validated using the Modulus 11 Algorithm and use of this algorithm is mandatory.
Steps of Modulus 11 Algorithm:
Step 1: Multiply each of the first 9 digits by a weighing factor (11-digit position). For example, first digit would be multiplied by 10, second digit would be multiplied by 9 and so on.
Step 2: Add the results of each multiplication together.
Step 3: Divide the total by 11 and get the remainder.
Step 4: Subtract the remainder from 11 to get the check digit. In case, check digit is 11, then it is replaced by 0 and if check digit is 10, then the first nine digits will be considered invalid and cannot be used.
Why is NHS Number Important?
Your National Insurance Number is unique to you and it will appear on all the official documents and letter like medical prescriptions, medical test results or hospital appointment letters from National Health Service or your General Practitioner. Babies born in the hospitals of England and Wales will be given their NHS number as soon as they are born, however those who are born at their homes, will receive their NHS number when they register the birth with general practitioner.
NHS Number is important because:
- It links the patient to their records accurately and effectively.
- It enables transfer of patient records electronically.
- It enables sending the electronic prescription messages.
- It helps the healthcare staff to provide safe and efficient health care services.
- It helps you book hospital appointments through the NHS E-Referral Service.
What if I have never registered with a GP practice?
Anyone who has registered with a GP practice in England, Wales or the Isle of Man will have an NHS Number.
An NHS number is automatically allotted to all born babies since October2002 in England, Wales or the Isle of Man.
In case, you were born before October 2002 and have never registered yourself with a GP practice in England, Wales or the Isle of Man, you’re likely not to have an NHS Number.
In order to get an NHS Number, you must get registered with a GP practice at the earliest. Use below link to locate a nearby GP in your areas
You can also find information about GP practices that are open to accepting new patients at the moment.
Is there a Cost for Availing Services of NHS?
If you have a NHS number, it does not mean that you can avail all services of NHS free of cost. Patients in England are required to pay patient contributions towards some of the NHS services and the money raised helps fund the NHS, such as:
- Prescription Costs: In case you have to avail number of NHS prescriptions, then it is better to buy Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC), which covers all cost of your NHS prescriptions including NHS dental prescriptions, however there are certain items which are not covered under this, like wigs and fabric supports. Prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) helps you to save quite a amount on your medical expenses. Cost of current prescription is £8.60 per item whereas a 3 month PPC costs you £29.10 and is a better deal in case you need more than 3 prescribed items in 3 months and a 12 month prescription prepayment certificate costs you £104.00 and thus you can save money in case you need more than 12 prescribed items in a year.
- Dental Costs: Cost of NHS dental costs depend on the type of treatment you need to have. For example, cost for examinations or diagnosis is different from the cost of getting an urgent medical treatment like root canal or temporary filling. However, you are entitled for a free dental care by NHS if you are below 18 years of age or if you are pregnant or if you have delivered a baby in last 12 months or if you are staying in a NHS hospital and treated by the dentist of that hospital.
- Eye Care Costs: You need not pay anything for NHS sight test if you have a free NHS Sight Test or Optical Voucher. Entitlement of an optical voucher is subject to various factors like your age, any history with diabetes or glaucoma, your income etc. In case your income is low then you can avail Low Income Scheme (LIS) of NHS.
- Health Costs i.e. Wigs and Fabric Supports: Health costs like wigs and fabric supports are though available with NHS, they are not available to the public free of cost, unless you support your case by submitting relevant documents under LIS scheme of NHS.
How to Obtain NHS Number:
People who are born in England and Wales post October 2002 or who have registered with a General Practitioner, have a National Health Insurance Number.
In case, you are not registered with a GP practice, you should get yourself registered with GP as soon as possible. The GP practice will be able to provide you with your NHS Number once you're registered.
You can find information about nearby GP practices & check online whether they are accepting new patients here:
What is the Eligibility to Apply for NHS Treatment?
Anyone who is deemed to be ordinarily resident in the UK is entitled to free NHS services & treatment in England. Access to the NHS services is universal, however depending on on the immigration status of a person within the UK, person may require to pay for certain services.
Major NHS services that are free to all include:
- Treatment under accident and emergency (A&E) department
- Treatment for certain infectious diseases
- Compulsory psychiatric treatment;
- Family planning services
How to Find Your Lost NHS Number?
NHS Number is a unique 10-digit long number which is allocated to you by your NHS either at the time of your birth or when you register with a General Practitioner for the first time. It is mentioned on almost all the medical documents and letters like medical prescriptions, medical test reports, hospital appointment letters etc.
In case you have lost your NHS number or not able to locate it, you can contact your General Practitioner for the same. In all probabilities, they should be able to help you in case have registered with them. In case, you haven’e registered with a General Practitioner, you should do it on the immediate basis.
How do I find an NHS dentist?
The service finder on NHS Choices online portal let you to find local NHS services, including dentists. You are required to contact the dental practice directly and check whether they are accepting NHS patients at the moment.
How to contact NHS England
You can contact NHS England representatives at:
Telephone: 0300 311 22 33
General Post (including complaints): NHS England, PO Box 16738, Redditch, B97 9PT
Address for service of legal proceedings and formal letters of claim:
NHS England, Legal Team, 4W08 4th Floor, Quarry House, Leeds LS2 7UE
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, except Wednesdays when we open at the later time of 9.30am.
Accounting Services for Medical Professionals?
With ever changing tax legislation, pension schemes and structural changes in NHS body, the accounting for medical practices & professionals is often considered as a complex job. Medical practices today not only have to run their centers but also meet the NHS structure & guidelines. Therefore, it becomes imperative to have a knowledgeable accountant in healthcare sector onboard.
If you’re an NHS doctor, practice or a medical professional in UK - DNS Accountants can provide you with a comprehensive range of specialist bookkeeping and accounting services tailored to meet your unique requirements.
Our specialist accountants in healthcare sector have hands-on experience in dealing with medical practices, dentists & doctors. For more information, book a free consultation with one of our experts.
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