The Information Standards Board for Health and Social Care (ISB) closed on 31 March 2014.

Responsibility for the recommendation for approval of information standards has transferred to the Standardisation Committee for Care Information (SCCI).

Information standards continued to be published here until 31 December 2014, after which they are published on the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) website.

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The details about this information standard are current at 31 December 2014. To find out whether they remain current after this date please check the SCCI publication pages on the HSCIC website

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Standard ISB 1523

Number ISB 1523
Title Anonymisation Standard for Publishing Health and Social Care Data

The law pulls in two opposite directions. Human Rights and Data Protection legislation, along with our domestic common law duty to respect confidentiality, require us to protect information that could identify an individual. The Freedom of Information Act requires public authorities to release information about their activities, and this message is reinforced by the governments transparency agenda.

Although the law makes a clear distinction between identifying and non-identifying data, where that line should be drawn may be far from clear in practice.

That is why this anonymisation standard for publishing health and social care data is needed. This process standard provides an agreed and standardised approach, grounded in the law, enabling organisations to:

    • Distinguish between identifying and non-identifying information
    • Deploy a standard approach and a set of standard tools to anonymise information to ensure that, as far as it is reasonably practicable to do so, information published does not identify individuals.
Applies To

The following persons or bodies must comply with this process standard:

  • The Secretary of State (DH)
  • NHS England
  • Any public body which seeks to publish information relating to the provision of health services or of adult social care in England
  • Any person commissioned (by a public body) to provide such health services or adult social care who seeks to publish information relating to them
  • Any person registered as described in s20A of the Health & Social Care Act 2008.

It relates to the activities of the above bodies when processing health and social care data, whether held electronically or on paper, and includes any data for which they are responsible, including personal data processed on their behalf by a data processor.

There are certain specific requirements when publishing official statistics . Whilst broadly consistent with this standard, there are some specific principles and procedures in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics to be followed, and statisticians and others publishing official statistics should refer to, and apply, that code of practice, and the supporting guidance published by the Government Statistical Service . The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has confirmed that this specification is consistent with the ICOs Anonymisation Code of Practice.

Status Approved
Sponsor Philip D Walker
Sponsor Organisation Department of Health
Current Release Amd 20/2010


Date Published Release Number Release Title Stage Link to Documentation
25-Feb-2013 Amd 20/2010 Initial Standard Implementation Documentation