UPDATE 6 March 2020:
On 5 March 2020, COVID-19 was added to the list of notifiable diseases and SARS-COV-2 to the list of notifiable causative agents in England. This change was made by adding them to the Health Protection (Notification) Regulations 2010.
Similar changes have been made in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
The change in law requires GPs in England to report all cases of COVID-19 to Public Health England. Visit the Gov.uk website for more information on how to report notifiable diseases
- Doctors have the statutory duty to notify a proper officer of the local authority of suspected cases of certain infectious diseases.
- This duty also applies where doctors suspect a patient they are treating has died while infected or contaminated.
- Doctors must notify the local authority in writing within three days of forming a suspicion about the patient's illness; you should not wait for confirmation of the infective organism. If you consider the case to be urgent, you should inform the local authority as soon as is reasonably practicable by telephone, fax or email.
The Health Protection (Notification) Regulations 2010 set out the following patient details which must be included in a notification:
- Name, birth date and gender
- Home address or current residence (if different) and telephone number
- NHS number
- Occupation, name and address of place of work (if considered relevant)
- Relevant overseas travel history
- Parent's contact details (if the patient is a child)
- Details of the disease, infection or contamination suspected and the date symptoms began
- Date of doctor's diagnosis and their name, address and telephone number.
You can access the standard form for notification via Public Health England. While consent is not necessary when doctors are legally required to disclose patient information, in these circumstances the GMC says that patients should be informed, where practicable, unless that would undermine the purpose of disclosure.
In England and Wales, Public Health England (PHE) is responsible for checking and updating the list of notifiable infectious diseases. The current diseases (in addition to COVID-19) are shown below, but members are advised to check on the Public Health England website for the latest list.
- Acute encephalitis
- Acute meningitis
- Acute poliomyelitis
- Acute infectious hepatitis
- Enteric fever (typhoid or paratyphoid fever)
- Food poisoning
- Haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS)
- Infectious bloody diarrhoea
- Invasive group A streptococcal disease
- Legionnaires' disease
- Meningococcal septicaemia
- Scarlet fever
- Viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF)
- Whooping cough
- Yellow fever
There are some differences in the list of notifiable infectious diseases in Scotland. Members should check with Health Protection Scotland for the latest position.
MDU members with concerns about notifiable diseases or their responsibilities to disclose patient information should contact the MDU for specific advice.
This guidance was correct at publication 06/03/2020. It is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.