NHS Digital is supporting GPs by putting in place a central service to collect and disseminate data from General Practice to support vital planning and research, as part of the coronavirus response.
This data collection is in response to a direct request to NHS Digital from the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). GPs are being overwhelmed with requests for data to support the response to coronavirus. This collection will allow more time for GPs to care for patients.
Data will be collected using the long-established service which currently collects data to support multiple uses, including the payment of GPs for their work. The central collection will reduce administration for GPs and provide controlled access, through NHS Digital, to GP data to support vital service planning, monitoring and research during the coronavirus pandemic.
This extraction during the coronavirus pandemic is a temporary solution to ease the burden on GPs. This data collection will cease at the end of the emergency period. The data collection will continue until 30 September 2020 and will be reviewed before then. If there is a continued need for the data for coronavirus purposes it will continue with 6 monthly reviews until the expiry of the Direction, which is currently 31 March 2022. Data will only be supplied in response to approved requests from data applicants who need it for appropriate coronavirus related purposes, including to improve care and vital planning and research. The GP profession will also be involved before data is made available in response to any request.
The data will only be shared to support the coronavirus response. All requests for access to the data will be made through the NHSX Single Point of Contact for COVID-19 requests process, which will triage and prioritise requests with NHS Digital, Health Data Research UK and the National Institute of Health Research. All requests will then be passed on to NHS Digital. This process includes robust information governance standards and independent oversight when any record level data is shared. It will also increase transparency for the public on how their data is being used.
NHS Digital’s legal power to collect and analyse the data is provided under the COVID-19 Public Health Directions 2020. A Data Provision Notice, with which GPs are required to comply, has been issued to all General Practices in England clearly setting out what data is being extracted and for what purpose. NHS Digital has provided a template GP Transparency Notice for GPs to use to let the public now about the data collection and has published its own Transparency Notice about how it will use and share the data on the NHS Digital website.
Dr Peter Short, Clinical Lead for GP Data at NHS Digital, said: “Data is crucial to enabling an effective response to the coronavirus pandemic and will help the health and social care system and researchers to save lives. This emergency data collection will free up time for GPs to spend with patients and ensure that the NHS can use data appropriately and transparently to plan and manage services effectively and potentially develop and target new interventions and treatments.”