Notifiable Diseases

Authored by Hilary Cole, 09 Sep 2015

Reviewed by:
Dr Hayley Willacy, 09 Sep 2015

Patient professional reference

Professional Reference articles are written by UK doctors and are based on research evidence, UK and European Guidelines. They are designed for health professionals to use. You may find the School Exclusion for Infections article more useful, or one of our other health articles.

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]
Anthrax Anthrax Anthrax Anthrax
Botulism   Botulism Botulism
Brucellosis   Brucellosis Brucellosis
  Chickenpox    
Cholera Cholera Cholera Cholera
    Clinical syndrome due to Escherichia coli O157 infection  
Diphtheria Diphtheria Diphtheria Diphtheria
  Dysentery    
Encephalitis and meningitis Encephalitis 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 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
  Leptospirosis    
Leprosy     Leprosy
Malaria Malaria   Malaria
Measles Measles Measles Measles
Meningococcal septicaemia Meningococcal septicaemia Meningococcal disease Meningococcal septicaemia
Mumps Mumps Mumps Mumps
    Necrotising fasciitis  
Plague Plague Plague Plague
Poliomyelitis Poliomyelitis Poliomyelitis Poliomyelitis
Rabies Rabies Rabies Rabies
  Relapsing fever    
Rubella Rubella Rubella Rubella
Scarlet fever Scarlet fever   Scarlet fever
Severe acute respiratory syndrome   Severe acute respiratory syndrome Severe acute respiratory syndrome
Smallpox Smallpox Smallpox Smallpox
Tetanus Tetanus Tetanus Tetanus
Tuberculosis (any site) Tuberculosis (any site) Tuberculosis (any site) Tuberculosis (any site)
    Tularemia  
Typhus Typhus   Typhus
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

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

  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 63:31.

  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. 200630(3):275-7.

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