Health Survey for England: privacy notice

Why we carry out the survey 

NatCen Social Research and University College London (UCL) have been commissioned by NHS England to carry out this survey to collect important information about the health of the population of England, to monitor trends in health and plan future health services.

NHS England is sponsored by the Department of Health and Social Care and is the national provider of information, data and IT systems to the health and care system in England. NHS England is also responsible for commissioning datasets and working closely with NHS England, The National Information Board, and other key agencies in the NHS and social care environment in England. 

Why we process your information 

The Health Survey for England is an annual survey. Every year, a new set of people are interviewed about their health. We need information about the health and wellbeing of adults in England to help the NHS, policy makers and charities make the right decisions about important issues like health, social care, and employment.  

Following each survey an official statistics report is published along with data tables and a survey dataset is created and archived with the UK Data Service. 

The lawful basis for collecting this data is the performance of a task carried out in the public interest and a legal obligation on NHS England to carry out this work. NHS England is the data controller for the study. NatCen, University College London and the UK Data Service are the data processors.  

Do I have to take part? 

Taking part is voluntary, as with all our public interest surveys, therefore, the success of the survey depends on the goodwill and commitment of those taking part. Naturally the more people who do take part the more useful and valuable the results will be. You are free to withdraw from the survey at any time.   

Sharing your personal information 

We take great care to protect the privacy of the information people give us. Your identity will only be known to certain members of the NatCen, UCL and NHS England research teams. 

We will process your personal data in accordance with data protection legislation. The survey report is anonymised - results will not be presented in a form which reveals your identity. We would only have to tell someone else what you say if, during the interview, you tell us about possible harm to yourself or others.  

You are free to withdraw from the survey at any time and you can request that your personal data such as name and address and your answers to the interview questions are deleted at any time from the data we hold. 

However, once the survey results (which do not identify you) have been published and/or the dataset has been made available to other researchers as outlined in this notice, we would not be able to change the results by removing individual information. 

The dataset is available to researchers in the UK, EEA or those from a country with a suitable adequacy agreement. Data access requests from researchers from other countries who do not meet either of those criteria will be reviewed by NHS England on a case-by-case basis. Researchers are required to demonstrate their research will be of material benefit to health and social care. 

Linking survey answers to other information? 

We will ask for your consent to link your survey answers with your NHS information held by NHS England. This would let us add information to survey answers about hospital visits, specific health conditions such as cancer, and details about dates and causes of death.  

Linking the data enhances survey responses and provides researchers with a more in-depth understanding of the health of the population of England which can be used to further improve health services.  

If you agree, your name, address and date of birth, but no other information, will be passed to authorised individuals at NHS England Once the data have been linked, personal information will be removed and the information will not identify you and it cannot be used by anyone treating you as a patient. You can cancel this permission at any time by contacting NatCen or NHS England. 

Your personal data will only be accessed by certain members of the NatCen and UCL research teams and England. Access to the data for other qualified researchers can only be granted by the NHS England's, Data Access Review Service (DARS). The information will be completely confidential and will be used for research purposes only by academic or policy researchers under restricted access arrangements which make sure that the information is used responsibly and safely. All researchers will need to comply with data protection legislation.

Follow-up studies? 

In the future, NatCen or NHS England may want to contact you about follow-up research on health or health services. We will only invite you to take part in follow-up research if you give written consent for this. If you are invited to take part in any future studies you are free to refuse.  

NHS England will carefully review all proposals from researchers/organisations to conduct follow-up research before giving approval. We will not pass on any of your details without your permission. NHS England will not approve any requests that are for commercial use.  

NatCen will not pass on any of your data or details to anyone not already referenced in this Privacy Notice without your permission.  

If you are invited to take part in any future studies, you will be free to refuse if you do not want to take part. If you want to remove your consent at any time you can contact NHS England or NatCen via the contact details below.

How long will you keep my data? 

The Health Survey has been running since 1991 and gives us very important information about how people’s health has changed over time. To help us do this, we would like to keep information about people’s health indefinitely, so we can look at trends over time. You can request that your personal data is deleted at any time. For information on how Health Survey for England uses your data and how this complies with data protection legislation, please click the following: 

For information regarding the right to erasure and the process for deletion of important data mentioned by the ICO, please click the following: 

Contact us 

If you have any queries, or want to request that we change or delete your information, contact us: 

Chloe Robinson, Research Director 
Unit 15, Ashton Gate, Ashton Road, 
Romford, Essex, RM3 8UF. 
Tel: 0800 526 397 

You can also contact NHS England: 

General enquiries 
Email : 
Telephone: 0300 303 5678. 
NHS Data protection Officer 

Data Protection Officers are responsible for upholding your rights and making sure we process your information correctly. 

If you would like to complain to the Data Protection Regulator, you can contact: 

Information Commissioner’s Office 
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, 
SK9 5AF