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DH announces £40m scheme to collect practice record data

The Department of Health has signed a million-pound deal to develop a new national system to extract GP patient data, which will determine QOF payments to practices and payments to clinical commissioning groups.

Ministers have agreed to pay £40m until 2016 to the NHS Information Centre to develop and roll-out the GPES (the General Practice Extraction Service) system that will provide an ‘unprecedented' level of information on primary care.

GPES will extracts patient data from GP records and collate it centrally, with the NHS Information Centre already signing contracts with the companies Atos and EMIS to supply software.

EMIS is the first GP clinical system supplier to sign up to GPES and the NHS Information Centre said it ‘expects all the main system suppliers to have signed contracts in January 2012'.

Chief executive of the NHS Information Centre Tim Straughan said the new system would provide much better information than the current Quality Management and Analysis System (QMAS).

He said: ‘GPES will offer an unprecedented, standardised picture of primary care information across England.'

‘Despite nine out of ten contacts with the NHS taking place in primary care, only a relatively small amount of information exists centrally about it. GPES will remedy this by providing a data extraction service that can bring together some of the rich data that exists in different GP practice systems and present it in a single and consistent format.'

Dr Paul Cundy, who chairs the GPC's IT subcommittee, said: ‘We have a whole hodgepodge of extraction systems and reporting tools so having a single mechanism for achieving this has got to be an improvement.'

Dr Cundy said they had agreed a set of principles in April 2010 with the NHS Information Centre that would ensure GPES maintained patient confidentiality and GPs' independence.

He said: ‘Those are sufficient to create a trusted environment around GPES– and it is to be welcomed if that continues.'