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General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR)

Data powers the NHS - the collection of GP data could support vital health and care planning and research.

How data helps the NHS

The NHS has been powered by data since it was established in 1948. Every time patients come into contact with the NHS, we learn a bit more about the nation’s health and about the services we provide. By safely and securely collecting and analysing information across all patients, we can build up a detailed picture which helps us to research new treatments, deliver the right services; improve the NHS, and help us to continue to have one of the best healthcare system in the world.  

The use of GP patient information (also known as GP data) for planning and research has the power to transform our understanding of what causes ill health and, importantly, what we can do to prevent or treat it and provide better care. We are developing a new, more secure and more efficient way to collect this information, called the General Practice Data for Planning and Research data collection.

What is patient data used for?

Patient data is at the heart of the NHS. You can’t see it, but it is essential to the way that we care for patients, plan and run services and for research, to develop new treatments and cures.

Caring for patients 

Patient data is used millions of times each day by doctors, nurses and other health professionals to treat and care for patients. It’s used for everything from identifying illness, prescribing the right medicine, to providing emergency care.

Planning and running NHS services  

NHS organisations need data to help them plan and run NHS services safely and effectively. This could include deciding where to provide new clinics and GP services or protecting public health, such as managing and monitoring the coronavirus pandemic. 

When pooled together, data held in general practice patient records provides a detailed picture of the nation’s health. It offers the most reliable evidence on which to base decisions on healthcare planning and delivery. 

It means services, staff and funding can be allocated to where they are most needed, enabling healthcare staff to provide the highest quality care to their patients.


Patient data collected from general practice is needed to support a wide variety of research and clinical trials, helping to develop cures and treatments for serious illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer and examining the effectiveness of new medicines. 

For example, GP data collected as part of the COVID-19 response is being used by the University of Oxford RECOVERY trial, which is looking to find ways to improve the treatment for people with COVID-19.

The use of patient data for research benefit us all as new or more effective treatments are developed and  introduced. Together, we are all greater with data.

Protecting your data 

We have rigorous processes in place to ensure that data we manage is collected, processed and stored securely. We also have strict governance processes in place to ensure we only provide controlled access to data to organisations that can clearly demonstrate how the data will be used to benefit patients and society as a whole.  

While the benefits of how patient data is used are understood, using GP data for planning and research is a sensitive area and people have held beliefs about how their data could or should be used. This is why it’s essential that patients and the public understand that they have choices about the way their data is used, and why we must be transparent about the safeguards we have put in place to keep their data safe.

Patient data is never shared for marketing, insurance or any other solely commercial purpose. This is protected in law.

Learn more about our journey so far

How we're talking to the public and experts to build trust in the programme, and how we will protect your data.

Our latest programme blogs

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact the GP data for planning and research programme team at [email protected].

Further information

Last edited: 15 December 2023 10:56 am