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Primary Care Mortality Database

What is the Primary Care Mortality Database?

The Primary Care Mortality Database (PCMD) holds mortality data as provided at the time of registration of the death along with additional GP details, geographical indexing and coroner details where applicable.

At present it holds data for 2006 to now which is based on the 2011 census structures. Monthly data is added by the second week of the following month. User access to the data is based on the Upper Tier Local Authority (LA) or Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) structures that they are responsible for.

The PCMD is managed by NHS Digital and is accessed securely using Open Exeter via an N3 connection.

A snapshot of the patient register is also available on the CCG view.

Who is it for?

This data is for use by Public Health analysts in Local Authorities and analysts in NHS Organisations who require deaths data for statistical purposes.

This data can be supplied under:

a)  Section 42(4) of the Statistics and Registration Service Act (2007) as amended by section 287 of the Health and Social Care Act (2012); and

b)   Regulation 3 of the Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulations 2002.

Even where access is granted, sharing of Patient Confidential Data obtained from PCMD cannot be passed onto any other organisation, including the NHS, unless that organisation will also be using it for public health statistical purposes and has completed the relevant forms for their organisation with approval from NHS Digital.

What data are available?

The PCMD contains monthly and annual extracts of individual record level data on deaths supplied directly by ONS and includes:

  • A single linked dataset including registered GP/practice, patient details e.g. age, causes of death, and NHS number.
  • Data that can be extracted by residence or GP practice registration.
  • The option to view by the CCG where the deceased was registered, or CCG area/ Upper Tier Local Authority where the person resided.
  • Quarterly counts of patients by GP practice aggregated by age and sex.

Legal Access

These data are supplied to Public Health in Local Authorities and NHS organisations for public health statistical purposes under: Statistics and Registration Service Act (2007) and Regulation 3 of the Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulations 2002.

The Act specifies that the births and deaths information can only be disclosed to health bodies and Local Authorities if either: it consists of statistics or is for the purpose of producing or analysing statistics; and is for the purpose of the performance of functions in relation to public health.

The HSCIC has produced a word icon PCMD factsheet [87kb] to assist in determining whether your organisation can access PCMD data.

How do I access the service?

The HSCIC's data release policies have recently been significantly reviewed which means that for the next application cycle (1 June 2016 to 31 May 2017) some changes have been introduced.

You will still need to complete the following forms as part of the ONS administrative process, as ONS own most of the data that HSCIC supply to you:

However, there is now one extra form that needs completing which is an HSCIC form:

Instructions for those who have applied for data in the past:

You will need to complete all four forms. We recognise there may be some duplication across forms and we will look to streamline these for next year. We have completed most of the new form for you so you only need to complete the bits marked in red.

Instructions for those organisations that are making an application for the first time:

You will need to complete all four forms with the instruction above plus making a few changes to the new form. In Section 2: Summary, please select 'New' as the Agreement Type. Also in Section 3: Datasets held/requested, delete all the information in the first table for Data already held for this project/purpose.

word icon Please refer to the guidance note to help you fill out the new form. [58kb]

Please fill in your forms as accurately as possible so your application can be processed without delay. We also advise that in order to ensure the smooth processing of your application that you check that you have the following in place:

  • Your organisation has a Data Sharing Contract with HSCIC (if not, then this can be set up).
  • Information Governance Toolkit - this needs to be achieved at version 13 and at level 2 (satisfactory).
  • A valid Data Protection Act (DPA) registration number.
  • A privacy notice explaining that data is being processed by your organisation in fulfilment of its public health function.
  • A secure email address (either a or a email address).
  • An N3 connection.

The forms should not be edited as they contain fields which are used in the automated application process. Changes to the fields will result in an error which will delay your application.

If you encounter any problems adding the scanned signatures to the forms then you can put the signatures in a separate document and send them alongside the forms.

If you have any queries on how to complete the forms, then please contact us on: or call 0300 303 5678.

Please return completed forms to: before the end of July 2016.

Data destruction policy

If you do not wish to make a new application but have received access to data within the last two years, then you are required to complete a Certificate of destruction note. See link:

Please complete and return these forms to: before the end of July 2016.

Data Sharing Agreement

Once your application has been approved, we will send you a Data Sharing Agreement to read through and sign-off. It is not until this is returned to us and signed by all parties that we are able to grant any access to data.


We will be carrying out data sharing audits to check that our customers are meeting the obligations in their Data Sharing Contract and Data Sharing Agreement.

Encryption of files at rest

A new requirement for access in 2016/17, as stipulated in the ONS Data Access Agreement form in section 10.8, is that record level data files are encrypted to AES 256 standard (e.g. password protected with WinZip V18.5 or later). This only applies to how files containing record level data must be stored at rest. Although a new requirement, this also applies to all record level mortality/births data obtained in previous years, as permission to retain data from previous years is dependent on adherence terms and conditions of the active data access agreements.

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