1. General information about this supplier and data sources

Supplier information 

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) supports ministers in leading the nation's health and social care to help people live more independent, healthier lives for longer. DHSC is a ministerial department, supported by a number of agencies and partner organisations.

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2. Abortion notifications

The abortion notifications data consist of records from the abortion notification form (HSA4), which all registered practitioners complete upon carrying out an abortion, in England and Wales.

Legal basis for sharing data

These data are supplied to the DHSC under Section 2 of the Abortion Act 1967, as amended by the Abortion (Amendment) Regulations 2008. The data are supplied to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) under Regulation 5 of the Abortion (Amendment) Regulations 2008.


Abortion notifications data are used for the purposes of producing conceptions statistics, when combined with births data.

Ethical scrutiny

ONS statisticians complete an ethical assessment of all proposed uses of a data source before work begins, and before they are given permission to access the data by the ONS Information Asset Owners (IAO). IAOs are senior ONS officials who are responsible for data sources, including protecting confidentiality and ensuring appropriate use.

For some new uses, notably where there may be more challenging ethical concerns, ONS statisticians will seek advice and ethical approval from the National Statistician’s Data Ethics Advisory Committee (NSDEC). Committee members have relevant expertise, provide scrutiny and challenge, and crucially, are independent.

Ethical scrutiny often involves exploring the balance between any data protection risks and the public good that could come from the new work. Most importantly, this scrutiny helps the ONS to ensure that we consider carefully whether we should produce a new statistic or not.

Minutes are published so the committee's views and approvals are transparent and available for the public to see. More information on the ethics self-assessment tool used by ONS researchers, and the NSDEC, can be found on the UK Statistics Authority's website.

ONS' only use of the abortions data, to help produce conceptions statistics, is long standing and pre-dates the existence of NSDEC. Any new uses will be scrutinised.

Data minimisation

Only fields that have been deemed necessary for the production of the conception statistics are supplied.

Data protection

The ONS is required to maintain confidentiality in accordance with the Abortion Act 1967 as amended by the Abortion (Amendment) Regulations 2008, the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007, the Code of Practice for Official Statistics, and the ONS published policies on disclosure control.

Statistical outputs from data supplied by the DHSC are compiled by the ONS in accordance with the UK Statistics Authority Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) are completed for all uses of data where there are inherent risks for processing personal data, for example, when processing large volumes of personal data or when processing personal data of a sensitive nature. The DPIA ensures appropriate controls are in place to minimise risks and to provide assurance around the safety of the data.

Examples of impact

These statistics are the only national measure of conceptions and are important to a number of users, including many of those who use our wider births statistics, such as academics. These statistics also reveal the proportion of abortions compared with births and stillbirths among total conceptions, which is useful for public health monitoring and policymaking by the Department of Health and Social Care and related bodies.

Further information

Read about conception statistics quality and methodology information.

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