The proposed GP data extraction service is awaiting a decision on its future funding as the coalition government carries out a review of arms length bodies.

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat government has set up an Efficiency and Reform Group to make sure savings across Whitehall and arms length bodies happen quickly.

Other bodies subject to review include the the NHS Information Centre, which now covers both PRIMIS+ and the proposed General Practice Extraction Service (GPES).

Dr Mark Davies, executive director of the NHS information Centre, told last week’s Primary Health Care Specialist Group conference that it was “a critical time for this important strategic project for us.”

Dr Davies said GPES was a centrally managed extraction service for England which will access information held in GP electronic patient record systems to help inform and deliver improvements in health care.

Dr Davies said the service, due to be delivered in the last quarter of 2010, would be run with information governance controls and had the support of the BMA but the project was “largely capital expenditure” and awaiting approval.

He said the NHS Information Centre was waiting to see what would emerge from the arm’s length bodies review that was going on but added that the government’s £168 billion deficit would have “very real and very profound effects for all of us in the NHS.”

Dr Davies said the coalition would increasingly be focusing on the use of information and on primary care and said the GPES service was “absolutely critical” for the NHS information Centre.

Dr Davies said freeing up access to information, delivering data standards and quality and outcome measures and working on information governance were all key parts of what the Information Centre could deliver to the NHS.

He told the PHCSG conference that it was long overdue for the NHS to have “adult to adult” conversations with patients about how the data captured about individuals would be sued by the health service.

He added: “We have created a situation where our patients are entirely happy for the NHS to put them to sleep but not happy for us to hold information or have any confidence that we can keep that secure."