NHS Digital has applied the General Practice Extraction Service (GPES) to collect data from GPs in England for research and planning in the coronavirus response.
It said a data provision notice has been issued to all practices setting out what data is being extracted from their records and for what purpose.
The GPES is usually used for collecting data to support the payment of GPs, but it has been extended to obtain details relevant to dealing with the pandemic. This will include personal data on patients, including the NHS number, postcode, address, gender, ethnicity, date of birth and date of death (if applicable); and clinical codes covering diagnoses and findings, medications and other prescribed items, treatments and outcomes, and vaccinations and immunisations.
The arrangement has initially been put in place until 30 September, but it will be reviewed and extended if necessary.
Crucial for response
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.”
NHS Digital emphasised that the data will only shared to support the coronavirus response, with all requests for access to be made through the NHS single point of contact, then triaged with support from Health Data Research UK and the National Institute of Health Research.
It said “robust” information governance standards are being applied, and that it has developed a template transparency notice for GPs to let the public know about the data collection.