GP Data for Planning and Research will mean that, with their consent, researchers will be able to access the medical records of participants and monitor their health before, during and after the clinical trial they are taking part in.
For example, the RECOVERY trial is testing treatments given to patients while they are in hospital with COVID-19, but GP data will allow us to find out the effects of these treatments on long-term health problems, such the development of lung or kidney disease or symptoms of ‘long-COVID’.
With more data we can run more trials and on a bigger scale, potentially delivering results faster and getting effective treatments rolled out quicker.
Second, research into the causes of poor health would be better and more reliable. To understand the causes of disease, researchers often need to observe a large group or ‘cohort’ of people over many years to see whether people with a particular characteristic, such as smoking, higher blood pressure or overweight, have a higher risk of developing particular conditions.
Controlled access to GP Data for Planning and Research will allow the researchers to find out about the causes of common and important conditions that are often treated by GPs like dementia, asthma and depression. Studies like this can often be done without the researchers needing to identify anyone in the data.
Third, researchers could study how treatments are delivered by GPs and find out more about the barriers to accessing care. For example, at the University of Oxford we published a study showing that around 3500 fewer people started treatment for colorectal cancer between April and October 2020 than was expected based on numbers from 2019.