GPs can refuse data extract

  • 24 January 2013
GPs can refuse data extract
Half a million patient correspondents were lost by NHS shared business service.

GPs will decide whether a massive new dataset can be regularly extracted from their practices.

They will also be able to check the data quality of the extract before it is sent outside the practice.

The NHS Commissioning Board’s first planning guidance, issued in December, said a new GP dataset will be “requested” from practices for submission to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

GPs are expected to provide the data on a monthly basis using the General Practice Extraction Service.

“The data will flow securely, via GPES, to the HSCIC, the statutory safe haven, which will store the data and link it only where approved and necessary, ensuring that patient confidentiality is protected,” the guidance explained.

The request includes data on patient demographics, events, referrals and diagnoses. The information will not be anonymised when it leaves the practice, which has sparked safety concerns amongst GPs and privacy experts.

HSCIC head of primary care strategy Dave Roberts told eHealth Insider the request will operate under the GPES information governance principles, meaning GPs must agree to the extract being taken.

It also means the CB’s request must go before the GPES Independent Advisory Group, which will do an IG assessment.

The HSCIC’s business unit is working with the board on its request, including defining what the exact requirement is and what the information will be used for, before taking it to the IAG in February.

“There is a need for the customer to be clear about what they want and why they want it, in order to get as high a response rate as possible,” Roberts said.

The assessment will also look at whether the information is available as it cannot be extracted if it is not read-coded or regularly collected by GPs.

GPs will be able to see the extract before it is sent to GPES in order to check the data quality.

Roberts acknowledged that GPs need to be convinced about the security of the extract and that the information will be used appropriately.

“We need to encourage the customer, which is the commissioning board, that they have to reassure the general practice population and in particular the professional bodies, such as the BMA and RCGP, that this is appropriate,” he said.

“Obviously we would expect them to do that or when the request goes out you might expect people to be quite upset about it.”

He said GPES will delete the data once it is forwarded to the HSCIC, in keeping with its IG principles.

“This will be the first request using the information centre in the way set up by the new Health and Social Care Act,” Roberts explained.

“In a sense it’s a test of that Act because we will be extracting patient identifiable data, then sending it to the safe haven information centre in order to link it to other datasets, with the purpose that once linked it will be put out as an anonymised linked dataset.”

Roberts said the CB is keen to get the extract running as soon as possible, but it must first go through the centre’s processes like all GPES customers.



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