National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

National Health Service Central Register (NHSCR)

National Health Service Central Register (NHSCR)

What is the Register used for?

Its main purpose is to permit the efficient movement of patient's medical record envelopes when they:

  • transfer between Scottish Health Boards and health authorities in the rest of the UK;

  • leave the country;

  • join the Armed Forces (or are dependants of Armed Forces personnel).

The Register is also used to:

  • issue NHS Numbers;

  • trace people resident in the UK who have lost contact with their families;

  • help medical researchers who have had their studies approved by a Privacy Advisory Committee;

  • provide to Scottish local authorities a unique reference number which is used to identify people on the database of local authority customers;

  • for research and statistical purposes such as producing Population and Migration statistics; for Census 2021 (a programme looking at the future of Scotland’s census and population statistics); the Scottish Longitudinal Study and for the indexing function of the Data Sharing and Linkage Service.