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NHS to start collecting patient data from GPs

For the first time, NHS England is to start collecting data on patient care from GPs in order to get a better understanding of patients’ backgrounds.

Although hospital data is already collected, the NHS says that they are extending the initiative to general practice to get a fuller picture.

16.5m households will soon receive leaflets explaining the scheme and how they can opt out if they wish to do so. This week, households in the north of England will receive the leaflets. The rest are due to follow later this month.

Dr Mark Davies, medical director at the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) said the centre was a ‘safe haven’ for data.

"We want everyone to feel confident that their information is kept private and used in non-identifiable form to improve the quality of health and social care for everyone.

"Equally important is that everyone knows that they have a choice and can raise an objection by simply talking to their GP."

Although the NHS has been collecting information like this from hospitals for decades, they claim to have been missing information about the quality of care provided outside hospital.

"This initiative is about upgrading our information systems to get a more complete picture of the quality of care being delivered across all parts of the NHS and social care," says Dr Geraint Lewis, chief data officer at NHS England.