Public health data privacy notices

All local authorities have a public health function and have a statutory duty to improve the health and wellbeing of, and reduce health inequalities in, the population they serve. To help Plymouth City Council do this, we use data from a range of sources to aid our understanding of the nature and causes of disease and ill health, and the health and care needs, across the city.

Plymouth City Council is bound by a number of information sharing agreements which are drawn up to ensure information is received from, and shared with, organisations in a way that complies with relevant legislation (Data Protection Act 2017 and the EU General Data Protection Regulations 2018).

Privacy notice: birth and death records

This notice provides details of how Plymouth City Council collects and uses information about registrations of births and deaths.

What is this information?

Personal information about a birth is collected at the time of a registration of birth and personal information about a death is collected at the time of a registration of death by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Plymouth City Council has a Data Access Agreement with NHS Digital (who hold the data on behalf of ONS) and legal sharing of this data is in accordance with section 42(4) of the Statistics and Registration Services Act 2007, as amended by section 287 of the Health and Social Care Act (2012), and Regulation 3 of the Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulations 2002.

Data is currently held for births and deaths registered from 1996 onwards as stated by the Data Access Agreement.

The term personal identifiable data relates to any data that could potentially identify an individual.

Information held about births that are classed as personal identifiable includes: date of birth of child; NHS number of child; address and postcode of usual residence of mother; and address and postcode of place of birth of child. Other information held includes: sex of child; birth weight; age of mother; a birth in marriage indicator; country of birth of parents; occupation and socioeconomic status of parents; and a still birth indicator. NHS Digital provides more information on the dataset.

Information held about deaths that are classed as personal identifiable includes: date of birth; date of death; NHS number; address and postcode of place of death; address and postcode of usual residence; cause of death; maiden name; name of certifier; and name of coroner. Other information held includes: age at death; sex; registered GP and practice; occupation; and place of birth. NHS Digital provides more information on the dataset.

Who uses this information?

The Public Health Team (Office of the Director of Public Health directorate) of Plymouth City Council.

Why do we use this information?

Births and death record data are of significant value to Plymouth City Council. Analysis of births and deaths in our local area allows the following:

  • Measuring and monitoring the health, mortality, or care needs of the population by specific geographical areas or population groups;
  • Planning, evaluating, or monitoring health and social care policies, services, and interventions; and
  • Protecting or improving the public’s health

The information is used to ensure that health, social care, and public health services address local needs and are focussed on reducing health inequalities (the differences in health status between population groups and geographical areas).

What do we do with this information?

The data is used to produce statistical outputs for public health purposes.

Specifically birth record information is used to identify trends in birth rates and low birthweights and highlight differences between geographic areas, age, and socio-economic characteristics. This information feeds into our Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, local commissioning plans, and health needs assessments. Other uses include the analysis of the distribution and relationship between place of residence and place of birth and age of mother to support service planning for higher risk pregnancies and teenage conception programmes.

Specifically death record information is used to identify trends in death rates, life expectancy, and premature deaths, highlighting the differences between geographic areas, age, sex, and other characteristics. This information feeds into our Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, local commissioning plans, and health needs assessments Other uses include the monthly monitoring of death rates, the investigation of variations in death rates between GP practices, suicide audit and prevention work, public place of death analyses and accident prevention work, monitoring of deaths from specific causes, monitoring the seasonal patterns of deaths and excess winter deaths, and monitoring child deaths and stillbirths.

For some of these purposes, an anonymised version of the dataset is used. Anonymisation is the process through which identifiable information is removed. This results in individuals no longer being identifiable.

For other purposes, identifiable data are sometimes used to link to other datasets. In the case of suicides and deaths with an open verdict an audit process is undertaken to gather further details from other public organisations. Under these arrangements Plymouth City Council contacts acute hospitals, GP practices, and local coroner’s offices to gather information about the circumstances of death and any contact with services to identify local issues to inform local suicide prevention work. Whilst the dataset is not shared with these organisations identifiable data are used to gather the relevant information from their systems required for the audit. Any linkage of data is undertaken by staff in the Public Health Intelligence Team. This data is not circulated outside the department.

No personal-identifiable information is published. Numbers and rates in published reports are aggregated to a level that protects confidentiality and anonymity.

Who do we share this information with?

This information will not be shared with anyone outside of Plymouth City Council, without your permission, unless we have a legal reason to do so.

More information about how the council will protect your privacy is available in our corporate data protection policy [PDF, 122KB]

How do we keep this information safe?

This information is held securely in an AES 256 encrypted area of Plymouth City Council’s internal network. The data is only accessible to analytical staff within Plymouth City Council’s Public Health Team who have a need to access the data.

What are your rights?

Under the Data Protection Act 2017 and the EU General Data Protection Regulations 2018 you have the right of access to, and the right to request a copy of, the information we hold about you. In addition you have the right to request rectification or deletion of your personal data. You also have the right to request that Plymouth City Council stop processing your personal data. Please see the Data Protection website for more detailed information.

Should you wish to exercise or discuss any of these rights, or complain about the way that your personal data has been handled by Plymouth City Council, please contact the Data Protection Officer using the following contact details:


Tel: 01752 306120

Write to:  Customer Relations Team – Information Access, Plymouth City Council, Ballard House, West Hoe Road, Plymouth, PL1 3BJ

Any complaint will be investigated in accordance with the Council’s Customer Feedback Procedure.

If you have concerns about the use of your personal data, or remain dissatisfied with the way your data has been handled by Plymouth City Council, you may refer the matter to the Information Commissioners Office, an independent body set up to uphold information rights in the UK. Please use the following contact details:

Website: Information Commissioner's Office

Telephone: 0303 123 1113

Write to: Information Commissioners Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF