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Improving data quality

The data quality items listed below have been flagged as requiring attention therefore the information below aims to provide guidance on how to address these issues.

Much of the information collected as part of GPAD is useful for understanding activity taking place in general practice, however the data quality of certain aspects of the collection are not yet fully understood. NHS England are aiming to understand certain areas of data quality better in order to ensure activity in general practice is more appropriately reflected in the Appointments in General Practice publication. The data quality items listed below have been flagged as those which need improvement, and therefore we have produced guidance to help you understand your data and and minor updates your appointment book in order to better reflect what activity is taking place.

Addressing historic DQ issues

Please note that any changes made in the appointment book system will not lead to retrospective updates of the GPAD data which underpins the dashboard. Data is collected weekly and therefore any changes you have made should be seen going forwards. If the guidance below does not help address the data quality issues flagged for your practice/PCN, or you see no improvements after making amendments then please raise a request via our contact centre.


Checking your data

The dashboard aims to provide practices and PCNs with information about the data collected in GPAD; the data should reflect the appointments in the GP system appointment books and we therefore ask that you check that this is the case. This is easiest to do by limiting the dashboard to a smaller period of time, such as 1 week, and cross checking aspects of the data against your appointment books such as the total appointment count, appointments mapped to a specific national category.

Please note that there will be a time lag on data in the dashboard compared to your appointment books as NHS England only receive data and update the dashboard on a weekly basis, and only receive updates to appointments from the past week. Any amendments to appointments prior to this will not automatically be reflected in the GPAD collection or the dashboard.


Raw data download

The ‘raw data’ download on the GPAD dashboard enables you to download the latest 4 weeks of appointment level data for your practice as an Excel or CSV file. This data will be updated each week and only the latest 4 weeks of data will be available. This data can be used to cross check with what can be seen in the appointment book system at the individual appointment level and is therefore useful to:

  • identify any discrepancies between what is being extracted via GPAD and what appears within the system
  • understand how appointments are mapped or categorised
  • make amendments to appointment slots which may be identified as being inaccurate
  • identify known areas of data quality issues to feed back to NHS England, GP system suppliers or commissioners, for example

The data dictionary file below contains further information regarding what each column of the data is.

Where areas of poor data quality are identified, please use the information within this webpage and the weblinks within the data dictionary to understand if/what action needs to be taken to improve data quality.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your raw data download then please contact [email protected] with the subject 'Raw Data Download - Practice Code'.

Data dictionary


Unmapped appointments

All slot types should be mapped to a national category to aid understanding of the nature of the appointment, however if your GPAD data is showing that you still have unmapped appointments which require attention:

Please check that all of your slot types are mapped to a national category and update them accordingly if they are not.

For Cegedim/Vision please see this guidance on updating slot type mappings: guidance.

For other suppliers if you are unsure how to check this then please refer to the guidance issues by your system supplier or contact them directly.

Please note that as GPAD data is collected on a weekly basis for appointments which occurred in the previous week, any updates made will only be reflected in the data going forwards.

If they are all mapped then you have completed your assurance of this data quality flag and have no further actions.

If all of your slot types are mapped within your appointment book system but the data quality flag on the dashboard is still showing that you have appointments which require attention this is likely due to issues with the system functionality which NHS England are working with suppliers to rectify. This is a known issue predominantly affecting TPP (SystmOne) due to an issue with receiving some data from squeeze in appointments.


Appointment status

The appointment status shows whether the appointment is available, booked, attended, cancelled or the patient did not attend. This status changes over time, for example when a patient makes a booking, the appointment status changes from ‘available’ to ‘booked’. GPAD reports each appointment with the final status of attended, booked or DNA.

In most cases, at the time of the appointment a ‘booked’ status will be changed to either ‘attended’ or ‘DNA’. In some cases (3-6% of monthly appointments) the final status of an appointment remains as ‘booked’. It is not known from the data whether these appointments were actually attended or not. For this reason, these appointments are reported as 'unknown' status.

Please ensure that appointments which are past their appointment date have an updated appointment status which reflects its final outcome i.e. cancelled, attended, DNA.

For EMIS please see this guidance on updating appointment status: guidance

For TPP/S1 please see this guidance on updating appointment status: guidance

 

Please note that any changes made in the appointment book system will not lead to retrospective updates of the GPAD data which underpins the dashboard. Data is collected weekly and therefore any changes you have made should be seen going forwards. 

If all of your appointments have a final outcome then you have completed your assurance of this data quality flag and have no further actions.

Please note NHS England is aware of a system functionality issue whereby appointment slots which are booked and subsequently deleted may remain within the GPAD collection with a final status of 'booked'. We are working with suppliers to rectify this issue.


Unknown appointment mode

The mode of the appointment shows the setting of the consultation. For example, face-to-face, telephone or home visit. This is set locally by the practices so may not represent the actual care setting of the appointment. For example, some video conference appointments may be logged by the practice as face-to-face.

Further information on appointment mode and how it is captured in GPAD can be found in our supporting information webpages.

Please check your appointment slot templates to ensure that the appointment mode/method is set for each appointment.

For EMIS please see this guidance on updating appointment mode: guidance

For TPP/S1 please see this guidance on updating appointment mode: guidance

For Cegedim/Vision please see this guidance on updating appointment mode: guidance

Please note that as GPAD data is collected on a weekly basis for appointments which occurred in the previous week, any updates made will only be reflected in the data going forwards.

If all slots are assigned to the correct mode for the appointment then you have completed your assurance of this data quality flag and have no further actions.

Please note practices using TPP (SystmOne) may have larger than expected 'Unknown' appointment modes due to an issue with receiving some data from squeeze in appointments and we are working with TPP to rectify this.


Unknown HCP type

The HCP type of the appointment shows the session holder of the consultation. For example, principal GP or practice nurse. Further information on how HCP type is grouped within the GPAD collection can be found in our supporting information webpages.

Please check your appointments to ensure that the appropriate HCP type is set for each session and update them accordingly if not. If you are unsure how to check this then please refer to the guidance issues by your system supplier or contact them directly.

Please note that as GPAD data is collected on a weekly basis for appointments which occurred in the previous week, any updates made will only be reflected in the data going forwards.

If all are assigned to the correct HCP type then you have completed your assurance of this data quality flag and have no further actions.

Please note practices using TPP (SystmOne) may have larger than expected 'Unknown' HCP type due to an issue with receiving some data from squeeze in appointments. We are working with TPP to rectify this.


Inconsistent Mapping

'Inconsistent mapping’ is the term used for any appointment which is not mapped to a national category within the Care Related Encounter context type e.g. Administration and Practice Staff Activities, or Care Related Activity; this is due to the fact that anything which is not a care related encounter doesn’t technically meet the definition of an appointment. NHS England are working with practices, suppliers and policy colleagues regarding whether it is appropriate to remove these appointments from the GP Appointments Dataset (GPAD).

For Cegedim/Vision please see this guidance on updating slot type mappings: guidance

Please note that as GPAD data is collected on a weekly basis for appointments which occurred in the previous week, any updates made will only be reflected in the data going forwards.

If you are confident that your slots are mapped to the correct national categories then you have completed your assurance of this data quality flag and have no further actions.


Admin/clerical categories

It is understood that it is common practice to include admin activities within the appointment book however where these 'appointments' then have a final status of attended, booked, or DNA they are currently considered as appointments within the GPAD collection. These admin activities do not meet the definition of an appointment and therefore if these are genuine appointments they should be mapped to an appropriate national category within the Care Related Encounter context type. 

Please check that any of your slot types which are mapped to the following national categories are mapped correctly.

  • Admin and Practice Staff Related Activities but does not fit into any other category
  • Break and Staff Absence
  • Business/Practice Management Activities
  • Clinical Housekeeping/Admin
  • Providing training/mentoring / supervising
  • Receiving training/being the mentee/being supervised

For Cegedim/Vision please see this guidance on updating slot type mappings: guidance

Please note that as GPAD data is collected on a weekly basis for appointments which occurred in the previous week, any updates made will only be reflected in the data going forwards.

If you are confident that your slots are mapped correctly to the national categories above then you have completed your assurance of this data quality flag and have no further actions.


0 minute duration

Valid durations for appointments are expected to be between 1 and 60 minutes; any appointments with actual durations outside of this will be flagged as having data quality issues. Please note this flag relates to actual duration and not planned duration - please see our supporting information for further information on how actual duration is calculated and the known functionality issues for each supplier.

NHS England is aware that appointments can have a 0 minute duration due to behavioural activity when interacting with the appointment booking system. For example, the opening and closing of triage appointments in quick succession. This is a known issue predominantly affecting EMIS systems.

At this moment in time this data quality flag is for information purposes only. NHS England and working with practices and GP system suppliers to understand if and how this measure can be improved.


Unknown duration

Valid durations for appointments are expected to be between 1 and 60 minutes; any appointments with an unknown actual duration will be flagged as having data quality issues. Please note this flag relates to actual duration and not planned duration. There are known functionality issues with various system suppliers which mean that NHS England do not receive an actual duration for many appointments - please see our supporting information for further information on how actual duration is calculated and the known functionality issues for each supplier.

At this moment in time this data quality flag is for information purposes only. NHS England and working with practices and GP system suppliers to understand if and how this measure can be improved.


Time between booking and appointment

This data measures the time elapsed (in days) between the date the appointment was booked and the date the appointment took place. Where an appointment slot is booked, cancelled and rebooked the latest 'booked' date will be used in calculations. This measure is then grouped into categories such as Same day, Next day, 2-7 days. Appointments are flagged as having data quality issues where the time between booking and appointment is:

  • Unknown
  • Negative

Negative times between booking and appointment can occur when, for example, an appointment has been added into the system retrospectively and therefore the booking date is after the appointment date. This is not advised as all appointments should be booked into the system prior to them occurring.

Unknown times between booking and appointment occur when either the booked date, or appointment date is unknown.

At this moment in time this data quality flag is for information purposes only. NHS England and working with practices and GP system suppliers to understand if and how this measure can be improved.

Last edited: 9 November 2023 12:50 pm