Put simply, data is at the heart of our NHS. You can’t see it, but it is essential to the way that we plan and run services and to the way that doctors, nurses and other health professionals give individual care.
It is easy to see how your doctor needs to know about your medicines to be able to safely look after you, but some other examples which you might not have thought of, are below.
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.
Data for research
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.
This research is only as good as the data it is based upon. Being able to safely and securely access this data in one place will help improve the quality of researchers’ results and new and improved treatments will reach patients more quickly.
Contributing to research projects will benefit us all as better and safer treatments are introduced more quickly and effectively without compromising patients’ privacy and confidentiality.