Because it is a comprehensive list of NHS patients, and can 'flag' records of people who have had cancer, or are taking part in reseach projects, so that researchers can keep track of their progress, the Register is an important source of medical research information. All requests to use the NHSCR database for medical research purposes are submitted to a Privacy Advisory Committee (PAC). The principal function of this advisory committee is to protect the privacy of patients, while recognising the need for controlled access to records by researchers and those involved in health administration for well-defined and bona fide purposes, subject to appropriate safeguards to maintain confidentiality.
Information about how to use the Register for medical research purposes is also available on our website.
The NHSCR is used to trace people who have lost contact with their families – without breaching patient confidentiality. The tracing procedure involves identifying the person being traced and alerting that person to the opportunity to re-establish contact with his/her family. If the person agrees, a letter from the family will be forwarded to him/her.
The tracing procedure will only be initiated by a request from a named charity specialising in tracing people (such as the Salvation Army). The NHSCR will not accept requests from adopted people who wish to trace their natural parents (or vice versa), from current or former partners looking for spouses, from fathers who are not named on birth certificates, or from companies or law firms.
The National Records of Scotland (NRS) estimates migration for the purpose of producing population estimates for Scotland and areas within Scotland. Migration is very important because it is the main reason for population change in many parts of Scotland. There is no comprehensive source for measuring migration and the best available information is when people who have migrated register with a new GP. The NHSCR is used to calculate moves between NHS Board areas within the UK, with migration at Council area and below estimated using anonymised data from the Community Health Index (CHI).