General Practice Extraction Service GPES
General practice records enable doctors to provide their patients with the care they need. But they are also the closest thing that we have in the NHS to a comprehensive lifelong record of a patient’s health and the treatment they receive. As such they are a very valuable source of information, providing the potential for the NHS to learn more about the health needs of the population, and how best to address those needs. The General Practice Extraction Service (GPES) will be able to unlock that potential, but for it to succeed, patients and doctors must trust that the confidentiality of patient records is properly protected. As recent guidance published by the General Medical Council sets out:
‘Patients have a right to expect that information about them will be held in confidence by their doctors. Confidentiality is central to trust between doctors and patients. Without assurances about confidentiality, patients may be reluctant to give doctors the information they need in order to provide good care’.
The GPES Information Governance Principles paper sets out the commitments proposed by the NHS Information Centre to safeguard the confidentiality of information in patients’ records. All requests for information made to GPES will be approved by an Independent Advisory Group which will check conformance to these Principles. A fundamental principle is that information extracted will be anonymised wherever possible. Where this is not possible, a legal justification will be necessary. However, patients who remain concerned despite these safeguards will be able to opt out of GPES.
The General Practice Extraction Service (GPES) will be used to extract GP data each month for the Care.data project, which is expected to be rolled out in the Autumn of 2014. The information to be extracted are: NHS number, date of birth, postcode, and gender which will allow patients' GP data to be linked to their hospital data. No free text will be extracted, only coded information about referrals, NHS prescriptions and other clinical data.
You can access the HSCIC here