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Coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to increased demand on general practices, including an increasing number of requests to provide patient data to inform planning and support vital research on the cause, effects, treatments and outcomes for patients of the virus.
To support the response to the coronavirus outbreak, NHS Digital has been legally directed to collect and analyse healthcare information about patients, including from their GP record, for the duration of the coronavirus emergency period, under the COVID-19 Public Health Directions 2020 (COVID-19 Direction). All GP practices in England are legally required to share data with NHS Digital for this purpose under the Health and Social Care Act 2012. More information about this requirement is contained in the Data Provision Notice issued by NHS Digital to GP practices.
This collection will reduce burden on general practices, allowing them to focus on patient care and support the coronavirus response.
What the data will be used for
Data will be analysed and shared by NHS Digital for coronavirus (COVID-19) research purposes including:
- carrying out vital research into treatments and vaccines for the virus, including clinical trials
- identifying coronavirus trends and risks to public health
- diagnosing and monitoring the effects of coronavirus
- controlling and helping to prevent the spread of the virus
- planning and providing health, social care and other public services to the public
- helping clinicians, scientists, public health bodies and the government to provide guidance and develop policies to respond to the outbreak
- monitoring and managing the outbreak
How the data will be collected
Data will be collected using the General Practice Extraction service (GPES). This collection is supported by the British Medical Association (BMA), Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and National Data Guardian (NDG) and will collect a specific set of patient data from GP practices in England on a fortnightly basis.
Guidance for GP practices
General practices should comply with the Data Provision Notice by registering their participation on CQRS in the normal way.
The BMA and RCGP are asking all general practices as a matter of urgency to complete this task as soon as they can, so that the benefits of this initiative can start as quickly as possible.
General practices have a legal duty to be transparent and to provide patients with transparency information under GDPR about the data they are sharing with NHS Digital.
General practices therefore also need to update their transparency notices on their websites to include details of this collection. NHS Digital has produced a template general practice transparency notice which GPs can use to do this. You can also link to this by publishing the following statement and link on your website:
This practice is supporting vital coronavirus (COVID-19) planning and research by sharing your data with NHS Digital. For more information about this see the General Practice Transparency Notice for GPES Data for Pandemic Planning and Research (COVID-19).
Guidance for analysts and users of the data
This guidance provides an overview of the dataset for analysts and other users of the GPES Extract for Pandemic Planning and Research that will provide information for coronavirus (COVID-19) planning and research.