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Treatment of almost all medical conditions has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. NICE has issued rapid update guidelines in relation to many of these. This guidance is changing frequently. Please visit https://www.nice.org.uk/covid-19 to see if there is temporary guidance issued by NICE in relation to the management of this condition, which may vary from the information given below.
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.
If a registered medical practitioner becomes aware, or suspects, that a patient whom they are attending within the district of a local authority is suffering from a notifiable disease, they 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.
- 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. They 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.
- Regulations require that a registered medical practitioner notify the proper officer of the relevant local authority if a patient they are 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).
- 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.
Lists of notifiable diseases
|Encephalitis and meningitis||Encephalitis and meningitis||Escherichia coli O157 infection (Clinical syndrome due to this)||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 poisoning||Food poisoning||Food poisoning|
|Gastroenteritis (<2 years)|
|Haemolytic uraemic syndrome||Haemolytic uraemic syndrome||Haemolytic 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' disease||Legionnaires' disease||Legionnaires' disease|
|Meningococcal septicaemia||Meningococcal septicaemia||Meningococcal disease||Meningococcal septicaemia|
|Scarlet fever||Scarlet fever||Scarlet fever|
|Severe acute respiratory syndrome||Severe acute respiratory syndrome||Severe acute respiratory syndrome|
|Tuberculosis (any site)||Tuberculosis (any site)||Tuberculosis (any site)||Tuberculosis (any site)|
|Viral haemorrhagic fever||Viral haemorrhagic fever||Viral haemorrhagic fever||Viral haemorrhagic fever|
|West Nile fever|
|Whooping cough||Whooping cough||Whooping cough||Whooping cough|
|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 and references
COVID-19 listed as a notifiable disease; Department of Health and Social Care, GOV.UK (March 2020)
Notifiable diseases and causative organisms: how to report; Public Health England, 2010
Infection Control Guidelines; Northern Ireland Regional Infection Prevention and Control Manual
About the Notification of Infectious Disease in Wales; Public Health Wales, 2010
Implementation of Part 2: Notifiable diseases, organisms and health risk states; Public Health etc. (Scotland) Act 2008
List of notifiable diseases (England); Public Health England
Schedule 1: Notifiable diseases and syndromes; About the Notification of Infectious Disease in Wales, Public Health Wales
Pillaye J, Clarke A; An evaluation of completeness of tuberculosis notification in the United Kingdom. BMC Public Health. 2003 Oct 63:31.
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.
Durrheim DN, Massey IP, Kelly H; Re-emerging poliomyelitis - is Australia's surveillance adequate? Commun Dis Intell. 200630(3):275-7.