Whether or not you would be recognised as your partner’s 'next of kin' in the event of an emergency is something that worries many cohabiting couples. Would you be informed if your partner was in an accident? Would you be given information about your partner’s condition? Would you even be allowed to see them in hospital? Might your family even argue about who was your next of kin?
Despite the widespread use of the phrase, ‘next of kin’ is not defined by the law. This means it could be anyone. Practice hospitals have generally recognised spouses and close blood relatives as next of kin and have sometimes excluded cohabiting partners. This has been more common with same-sex partners, but has also happened to male-female couples.
As families have become more diverse, the policy in most NHS trusts is to ask you to nominate your next of kin formally, on your Admission to hospital. Make sure you always choose the same person as you have put on this card (if possible). If you are unable to say, because for example you are unconscious, they will try to work out who is the person closest to you. They may get this wrong, particularly if your personal circumstances are confusing or "unusual" (for example, if you consider your best friend to be your next of kin, rather than your dad).
We've created the next of kin card to make it absolutely clear to medical staff who you have chosen as your next of kin, and how to contact them. It has been designed to fit in your wallet and can be carried with you everywhere. If there is any disagreement while you are unconscious, your next of kin can be contacted.
Download our Next Of Kin information leaflet (PDF, 248KB) - it comes complete with a Next of Kin card to be kept in your wallet. The card will help clarify your wishes if you fall ill, and ensure that your partner is treated as your next of kin.