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NHS to collect and analyse GP patient data

Data will be examined by the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre to find ways of improving GP patient care

Ingrid Torjesen

Monday, 06 January 2014

NHS England is to start collecting patient data held by GPs practices for the first time to provide information on the care provided outside hospitals so that its quality can be improved.

The data will be collated and analysed by the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), which already examines hospital to provide a picture of disease and treatment patterns in secondary care.

Over the next four weeks, every household in England will receive the leaflet “Better Information Means Better Care”, explaining the benefits of sharing information about the care they have received.

The leaflet explains that sharing information will help ensure that the quality and safety of services is consistent across the country and highlight different diseases and conditions that may require more NHS investment.

It adds that modern data techniques allow the characteristics, treatments, and experiences of the millions of patients treated by the NHS each week to be analysed to help improve the quality of care.

Patients do have the right to object to their data being used for purposes other than their direct care. The leaflet tells any patient wishing to restrict their data being used to talk to their GP. Also an information line has been set up for patients to call if they have any questions or concerns about how their data are used. The number is 0300 456 3531.

Dr Geraint Lewis, chief data officer at NHS England, said: “The NHS has been collecting information like this from hospitals for decades but until now we’ve been missing information about the quality of care provided outside hospital. This initiative is about upgrading our information systems to get a more complete picture of the quality of care being delivered across all parts of the NHS and social care.”

Dr Imran Rafi, chair of the clinical innovation and research centre at the Royal College of General Practitioners said: “I fully support this initiative. GPs understand the importance of sharing information appropriately both as part of delivering clinical care and for wider uses, such as research and for planning NHS services. It is important that patients understand how the NHS uses and shares their information, and that they feel they have been given a proper choice to participate. The spin-off is the potential for all NHS patients to benefit.”

Households in the North of England will receive their leaflets this week, with the rest of England to follow during January.

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