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Independents' Day

NHS England requests data on GP appointments to support case for seven-day working

NHS England will ask GP practices for access to detailed information about their provision of patient appointments in order to analyse if the money spent on seven-day access is ‘wisely invested’.

A spokesperson said NHS bosses had decided not to proceed with plans to bypass GP practices to access this information directly from IT suppliers, as reported in the national media.

This is despite having asked EMIS for ‘patient level data’ excluding names but including birth year, gender and the first part of their postcode only last month.

In the letter sent to EMIS on 19 June, seen by Pulse, NHS England’s head of primary care development Tracey Grainger said it needed EMIS to extract this data because there was ‘an urgent need within short delivery timescales’ to analyse ‘changes to appointment provision, appointment uptake and patient encounter patterns’ by this September.

The data requirements sheet sent out by NHS England for comments from EMIS requested the date and time of the appointment; its duration; appointment type, face to face, skype, home visit; and whether the appointment was urgent or routine.

But patient privacy campaign group medConfidential’s coordinator Phil Booth noted that GPs are the ‘data controller’ for patient records rather than ‘the companies GPs choose and pay to provide software’.

He said: ‘It is GPs who have a professional and ethical duty of confidence to their patients. With this letter, NHS England has shown it will prioritise political motivations over patient trust. It quite evidently thinks it is above the law when it comes to protections around patient data.

‘Its intentions are clear, route around doctors and patients, trample on every rule of confidentiality and collect it all.’

GPC IT lead Dr Paul Cundy said NHS England should inform patients if extracting data, including how it might be used.

He added: ‘The Government should not be casting aside patient confidentiality in pursuit of ill-though-out political priorities.’

However an NHS England spokesperson told Pulse that it had decided not to take the ‘course of action [the letter] outlines’.

A spokesperson said: ‘It is crucial not to misunderstand what is being proposed. We are not talking about individual personal information in this letter. What we are referring to is overall statistics for GP surgeries on issues such as total numbers of appointments.

‘Practices have asked us if we could secure more help from the system suppliers in auditing their data so as to reduce their costs and workload. Such information is clearly needed to ensure the £125m is wisely invested through the Prime Minister’s GP Access Fund.’

EMIS Health stressed it has ‘strict information governance procedures’ which meant it had not released any data in response to NHS England’s initial request.

A spokesperson said: ‘This responsibility rests with GP practices who must give their consent to any extract as the data controllers of this information.’


Readers' comments (17)

  • 'urgent need' to ride roughshod over data issues includes imminent risk of death or dying, not having to answer embarrassing questions from your boss as to why you haven't delivered his organisational target.

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  • I've never heard so much £$%%£%$ in my life. If they asked my surgery, they would get zero information about appointments. Zero. And I would hope other surgeries decline to give any info as well. United we stand.

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  • Get knotted jerks from nhse
    After fiasco you have demonstrated
    your supreme incompetence with information
    Personally I would not trust this appalling quango with my cat's appointment with the vet

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  • The day my Practice gets the average £136/patient instead of 91, I will be glad to discuss any options. Till that day, however, everything with NHSE is no go!

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  • There's an agenda
    Always an agenda...

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  • Just say no. Whitehall need to wind their necks in. The public need to know what is going on.

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  • Agenda- number of DNA's on same day booked urgent appts; number of even moe expensive DNA's for community clinics e.g. dermatology, 3DNA's in a row c. 500-600£,.. to use tabloid expression_ waiting room left shocked, aghast, agape,angry at patient booked appts that did (not bother to) turn up

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  • Once again, please recover the £10 billion lost on the NHS IT system in the last 10 years. If they can recover £50-100 million from the Hatton Cross robbery, then make the same effort, Pls call Scotland Yard, Columbo, or Ironside.Just ask the civil servants to go and get it, no need to ask the EU, IMF as they were not involved in this one.

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  • 'Private sector pay for NHS'
    Stevens looking to drive down private pay scales even further!?!?!
    Or perhaps a swallow in the midst of winter heralding a neurone firing intelligently at last!?!?
    Don't hold your breath!!!

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  • you can only have seven day appointments for GPs if you have qualified GPs to man them.
    NHS by not responding to BMJ Editorial BMJ2012;345;;e8239 prof.Brian Jarman and article BMJ2013;346:f2309 of Professor David Hands'We need an aggregated data on NHS bullying' have bullied many GPs to resignation.
    7 day appointment by qualified GP will remain a pipe dream

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