Notifiable Diseases

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PatientPlus articles are written by UK doctors and are based on research evidence, UK and European Guidelines. They are designed for health professionals to use, so you may find the language more technical than the condition leaflets.

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England[1] 

Registered medical practitioners have a statutory duty to notify the 'proper officer' at their local council or local health protection team (HPT) of suspected cases of notifiable diseases. They must:

  • Complete a notification form immediately on diagnosis of a suspected notifiable disease. They should not wait for laboratory confirmation of a suspected infection or contamination before notification.
  • Send the form securely to the proper officer within three days, or notify them verbally within 24 hours if the case is urgent.

Northern Ireland[2] 

If a registered medical practitioner becomes aware, or suspects, that a patient whom he/she is attending within the district of a local authority is suffering from a notifiable disease, he/she shall forthwith send to the proper officer of the local authority for the district a certificate stating:

  • The name, age and sex of the patient and the address where the patient is.
  • The disease and the date, or approximate date, of its onset.

Scotland[3] 

  • All registered medical practitioners must notify their health board if they have a reasonable suspicion that a patient whom they are attending has a notifiable disease. He/she should not wait until laboratory confirmation of the suspected disease before notification.
  • Practitioners must notify their health board, electronically via the Scottish Care Information (SCI) Gateway, within three days of suspicion.
  • If the practitioner deems the case to be 'urgent', notification should take place by telephone as soon as reasonably practicable. All urgent oral notifications must be followed up, in writing, within three days of suspicion.

Wales[4] 

  • Regulations require that a registered medical practitioner notify the proper officer of the relevant local authority if a patient he/she is attending is believed to have a notifiable disease.
  • The notification must be made in writing to the proper officer within three days of the medical practitioner suspecting that the patient fulfils one of the above criteria. However, if the medical practitioner considers that the case is urgent, notification must be provided orally as soon as is reasonably practical.

Notification of the infectious diseases (as in the table below) is required by GPs in the UK.

Notification requires the completion of the appropriate form; however, notify urgent cases by phone as well (as soon as possible - certainly within 24 hours of any suspicions).

Details required

  • Patient's name, date of birth, sex and home address with postcode.
  • Patient's NHS number.
  • Ethnicity (used to monitor health equalities).
  • Occupation and/or place of work or educational establishment if relevant.
  • Current residence (if it is not the home address).
  • Contact telephone number.
  • Contact details of a parent (for children).
  • The disease or infection, or nature of poisoning/contamination being reported.
  • Date of onset of symptoms and date of diagnosis.
  • Any relevant overseas travel history.
  • If in hospital, also:
    • Hospital address.
    • Day admitted.
    • Whether the disease was contracted in hospital.

There is no longer a fee payable for notification.

In Scotland, written notification should be undertaken electronically via the SCI Gateway.[3]

England[5] Northern Ireland[2] Scotland[3] Wales[6] 
AnthraxAnthraxAnthraxAnthrax
Botulism BotulismBotulism
Brucellosis BrucellosisBrucellosis
 Chickenpox  
CholeraCholeraCholeraCholera
  Clinical syndrome due to Escherichia coli O157 infection 
DiphtheriaDiphtheriaDiphtheriaDiphtheria
 Dysentery  
Encephalitis and meningitisEncephalitis and meningitis Encephalitis and meningitis
Enteric fever (typhoid or paratyphoid fever)Enteric fever (typhoid or paratyphoid fever)Enteric fever (typhoid or paratyphoid fever)Enteric fever (typhoid or paratyphoid fever)
Food poisoningFood poisoning Food poisoning
 Gastroenteritis (<2 years)  
Haemolytic uraemic syndrome Haemolytic uraemic syndromeHaemolytic uraemic syndrome
  Haemophilus influenzae type b 
Hepatitis (infectious)Hepatitis A, B, unspecified Hepatitis (infectious)
Infectious bloody diarrhoea  Infectious bloody diarrhoea
Invasive group A streptococcal disease  Invasive group A streptococcal disease 
Legionnaires' diseaseLegionnaires' disease Legionnaires' disease
 Leptospirosis  
Leprosy  Leprosy
MalariaMalaria Malaria
MeaslesMeaslesMeaslesMeasles
Meningococcal septicaemiaMeningococcal septicaemiaMeningococcal diseaseMeningococcal septicaemia
MumpsMumpsMumpsMumps
  Necrotising fasciitis 
PlaguePlaguePlaguePlague
PoliomyelitisPoliomyelitisPoliomyelitisPoliomyelitis
RabiesRabiesRabiesRabies
 Relapsing fever  
RubellaRubellaRubellaRubella
Scarlet feverScarlet fever Scarlet fever
Severe acute respiratory syndrome Severe acute respiratory syndromeSevere acute respiratory syndrome
SmallpoxSmallpoxSmallpoxSmallpox
TetanusTetanusTetanusTetanus
Tuberculosis (any site)Tuberculosis (any site)Tuberculosis (any site)Tuberculosis (any site)
  Tularemia 
TyphusTyphus Typhus
Viral haemorrhagic feverViral haemorrhagic feverViral haemorrhagic feverViral haemorrhagic fever
  West Nile fever 
Whooping coughWhooping coughWhooping coughWhooping cough
Yellow feverYellow fever

Yellow fever

Yellow fever

There is widespread under-reporting and lack of compliance with these guidelines, both in the UK and abroad.[7][8][9]

Further reading & references

  1. Notifiable diseases and causative organisms: how to report; Public Health England, 2010
  2. Infection Control Guidelines; Northern Ireland Regional Infection Prevention and Control Manual
  3. Implementation of Part 2: Notifiable diseases, organisms and health risk states; Public Health etc. (Scotland) Act 2008
  4. About the Notification of Infectious Disease in Wales; Public Health Wales, 2010
  5. List of notifiable diseases (England); Public Health England
  6. Schedule 1: Notifiable diseases and syndromes; About the Notification of Infectious Disease in Wales, Public Health Wales
  7. Pillaye J, Clarke A; An evaluation of completeness of tuberculosis notification in the United Kingdom. BMC Public Health. 2003 Oct 6;3:31.
  8. Brabazon ED, O'farrell A, Murray CA, et al; Under-reporting of notifiable infectious disease hospitalizations in a health board region in Ireland: room for improvement? Epidemiol Infect. 2007 Mar 30;:1-7.
  9. Durrheim DN, Massey IP, Kelly H; Re-emerging poliomyelitis - is Australia's surveillance adequate? Commun Dis Intell. 2006;30(3):275-7.

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Dr Hayley Willacy
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Hayley Willacy
Document ID:
2524 (v27)
Last Checked:
09/09/2015
Next Review:
07/09/2020

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