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GP Contract Services: Data Quality Statement

This page provides information on the data quality of the GP Contract Services publications. It details any overarching data quality issues that affect many, if not all, of the GP Contract Services.

With the exception of the Indicators No Longer In QOF (INLIQ), the data for the GP contract services have not been subject to any  quality checks. User feedback received to date has indicated that the INLIQ data are used more widely; therefore, the data for this service have undergone quality checks, and the publication includes details of the data coverage and integrity. For full details of the results of these checks, please review the information provided in the workbook provided for this service (links to resources are provided in the service summaries below).


Accuracy and reliability

The data from a number of GP Contract Services are used for direct payment purposes; therefore, GP practices are incentivised to ensure that patients’ medical records are accurate and up-to-date. The accuracy of the GP Contract Services data primarily depends on:

  • Clinical coding: Patients’ medical information is recorded in GP practice clinical systems in the form of Read codes, which provide a standard vocabulary for recording such information. The extent to which GP practices keep their patients’ medical records accurate and up-to-date will affect the accuracy of their data.
  • Manually entered data: For manual data collections, the accuracy and reliability of the counts that GP practices enter in to the CQRS will affect the accuracy of their data. For example, a member of staff from a GP practice may accidentally enter the wrong number (e.g. 100 instead of 10) when recording the number of vaccinations that their GP practices have administered.
  • Clinical case finding: This is the extent to which patients with certain conditions are identified by GP practices as having these conditions, which consequently results in the extent to which these patients are recorded as having these conditions. While this mainly concerns the disease registers that form part of the INLIQ, the same principles apply to core contract components, ESs and vaccination and immunisation programmes. For example, the data accuracy for a given ES depends on GP practices identifying the suitable patients who qualify for this service.
  • Recording of information carried out by other healthcare providers: A number of Core contract components, ESs and vaccination and immunisation programmes include management information counts that concern activity that has been carried out by other healthcare providers (i.e. the activity has been carried out outside of the GP practice). The extent to which this activity is recorded in GP practice clinical systems affects the accuracy of these management information counts.

Timeliness and punctuality

Timeliness reports the time between when the data was recorded and the delivery of the product that uses the data, which in this case is the publication of the GP Contract Services publications. In response to user feedback, the data for the learning disability health checks scheme are published on a quarterly basis, and can be accessed via learning disabilities health check scheme publication page.


Accessibility and clarity

Data for each GP Contract Service will be available on the NHS Digital webpage in .csv files. The data are presented at GP practice level, and a file providing mappings to higher-level geographies (e.g. CCGs) and to relevant metadata is also provided. Summary statistics also accompany the INLIQ publication, which can be accessed via the GP Contract Services publication page.

Where a practice has submitted data but it is not possible to map that practice, for example if it was listed as dormant or closed for the period in question, the data is displayed but the geographical mapping fields are shown as Unallocated (UNA). 

The GP Contract Services data will be freely available on the NHS Digital webpage. However, NHS Digital should be clearly acknowledged as the data sources whenever these data are reused. See the NHS Digital Terms and Conditions webpage for further information.


Coherence and comparability

GP Contract Services - Data for automated collections are specified in the form of Business Rules, which may or may not define aspects of clinical care in the same way as other public health sources. For example, patient registers used in the INLIQ may not precisely match equivalent disease definitions that are used by epidemiologists. It is important to take account of the clinical definitions that are used in the Business Rules before comparing GP Contract Services data with other sources.

Each GP Contract Service, and therefore the Business Rules associated with the service, may change from one year to the next; therefore, counts/indicator achievement may not be directly comparable each year. See the NHS Employers General Medical Services webpage for details regarding year on year changes to the GP Contract Services.

INLIQ - Indicator THY001 (The contractor establishes and maintains a register of patients with hypothyroidism who are currently treated with levothyroxine). The terms of this indicator are satisfied if the practice was able to produce a data extraction according to the rules for the population specified above. The response is either True or False (a Boolean) not a patient count and is therefore not shown in the published CSV although it is included in the data dictionary.

The number of patients on the Thyroid register does get returned for THY002 and can be used to show which practices maintain a thyroid register.


Performance, cost and respondent burden

A validation exercise takes place on the GP Contract Services data. This involves NHS England sub-region teams confirming the data from GP practices ahead of any payments made on the back of these data.


Confidentiality, transparency and security

Published GP Contract Services data are derived from the CQRS. Users of the CQRS (i.e. appropriate persons from GP practices, CCGs and sub-regions) can monitor their own data on a continuous basis throughout the year. They also have access to reports, which provide the same level of information that is published by NHS Digital in the GP Contract Services publications.

The GP Contract Services publications have been subject to a risk assessment around disclosure and appropriate controls have been implemented where necessary.

See the NHS Digital Freedom of Information webpage for further information.


Assessment of user needs and perceptions

NHS Digital encourage users to provide feedback on publications, via the contacts given below. Feedback from previous GP Contract Services publications demonstrated a need for the Learning disabilities health check scheme data to be made available in a more timely fashion; these data are now published on a quarterly basis as a result, and can be found here.

Conversely, limited use of the majority of the GP Contract Services publications has prompted NHS Digital to publish these data as management information, with the provision of less contextual information and analysis for these services.

Queries can be received through the following channels:

Email:           enquiries@nhsdigital.nhs.uk

Telephone:   0300 303 5678

NHS Digital encourages all users to provide feedback on publications. This feedback is sought so that we can improve our publications and better meet users’ needs in future.


Further information

Last edited: 28 January 2022 3:50 pm