The UK statutory notification system for infectious diseases (also called Notifications of Infectious Diseases or NOIDS) is a system whereby doctors are required to notify a "Proper Officer" of the local authority (such as a Consultant in Communicable Disease Control) if they are presented with a case of a serious infectious disease such as diphtheria or measles. The Proper Officer then sends a report to the Centre for Infections of the Health Protection Agency (HPA) in Colindale, north London.
The main purpose of the system is the detection and intervention in possible epidemics. It also enables surveillance data to be collected that can help in planning ways to prevent future outbreaks.
History of the statutory notification system
The statutory requirement for the notification of certain infectious diseases first came into being in London in 1891. Cholera, diphtheria, smallpox and typhoid had to be reported by the head of the family or the landlord to the local authority. The system spread to the rest of England and Wales in 1899. Originally, disease statistics were collected from the local authorities by the Registrar General's Office, where national statistics were already collected on births, marriages and deaths. This office was later known as the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys and is now called the Office for National Statistics. In 1997, however, the responsibility for administering the system was transferred to the CDSC.
The system today
The main concern of the modern system is speed in detecting possible outbreaks, and accuracy of diagnosis is only secondary. Since 1968 clinical suspicion of a notifiable infection is all that is required to report a case of a disease. The attending doctor must notify the proper officers, who are usually public health clinicians called consultants in communicable disease control. These consultants are required to inform the HPA on a weekly basis of each case of a disease that has been notified. The HPA collates these reports and publishes its analysis of local and national trends.
The list of notifiable diseases now stands at 30, including leprosy, which must be reported directly to the director of the CDSC. During the 2002-2003 outbreak, SARS was added to the list as the 31st.
Some of the notifiable diseases are: