Professor Sir Bruce Keogh has written to all NHS chief executives and medical directors to promote wider use of the NHS Number.
In a letter, the NHS medical director tells chief executives that implementing the NHS Number is not just about data quality or finding the number to put on a record so that data sets are complete.
He says: “It is about facilitating safe and effective transfer of information across the system through NHS Connecting for Health. It fundamentally underpins our approach to clinical quality and patient safety.”
Sir Bruce, who is the senior responsible officer for the NHS Number Programme, says it was designed to provide support, guidance and assistance to healthcare organisations in achieving complete adoption of the NHS Number.
He thanks 19 organisations, including primary care trusts, GP practices and hospitals, that have worked with the NHS Number Programme over the past few months to share knowledge, experience and best practice.
The letter also encourages other organisations to get involved. “Only by gaining wider contributions are we able to validate the guidance and to gain a full insight into best practice,” the letter says.
In September, the National Patient Safety Agency issued a Safer Practice Notice that requires all NHS organisations in England and Wales to use the NHS Number as the national, unique patient identifier by September 2009.