GP Toolkit

The purpose of this toolkit is to provide support materials to help GP Practices  raise patient awareness of our plans to extract coded GP data as part of the programme,  and to ensure that GP practices know what to do if a patient objects to the use of personal confidential data (PCD) beyond their direct care.

Background –

NHS England is commissioning a modern data service from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) on behalf of the entire health and social care system. Known as, this programme will build on the existing data services such as the Hospital Episodes Statistics (HES) service, which was launched in 1989, and expand it to provide linked data, that will eventually cover all care settings, both in and outside of hospital.

Under the Health and Social Care Act 2012, NHS England has the power to direct the HSCIC to collect information from all providers of NHS care, including general practices. The specification of the data to be extracted by GP practices were considered by the Joint GP IT Committee of the British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners, as well as an independent advisory group. Details are available here:

The General Practice Extraction Service (GPES) will be used to extract GP data each month. Initially the data will cover the period from April 2013 onwards.  The identifiers 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. The technical specification of the extract can be found at:

NHS England, HSCIC the BMA and the RCGP have worked together to produce guidance and resources to support the programme. The specific materials included in this toolkit are intended to support GP practices in raising patient awareness of our plans to extract coded GP data as part of the programme and to ensure that GP practices know what to do if a patient objects to the use of personal confidential data (PCD) beyond their direct care.

Benefits of sharing information

It is important for the NHS to share information about the health needs of the population and the quality of the treatments they receive.

By sharing information in this way, researchers can identify patterns in disease and the most effective treatments. We can also:

  • find more effective ways of preventing or managing illnesses;
  • advise local decision makers how best to meet the needs of local communities;
  • promote public health by monitoring risks of disease spread
  • map out pathways of care to streamline inefficiencies and reduce waiting times
  • determine how to use NHS resources most fairly and efficiently.

What do GP practices need to do now?

You should plan a minimum of eight weeks awareness raising activity with all patients in the practice to ensure patients are informed of our plans for extracting coded GP data as part of the programme.

A pack of publicity materials, including posters and leaflets will be sent to every GP practice in England throughout August and September. PDFs of the same materials are also available below if you wish to use them in any electronic communications.  Further printed copies of the publicity materials can also be ordered from our printers, see the ordering guidelines for more details.

  • You should inform all practice staff about what they need to do and how they should support patients with any queries they may have
  • You should raise awareness with patients about how their confidential data will be used by the service;

You can do this by:

Other useful documents

Information governance and risk stratification

Further information

If you have any questions about the extract, please telephone the HSCIC Contact Centre on 0845 300 6016 (open from 9 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday) or send an email to: (quoting ‘ – GP’ in the subject line).

Please note that the contact centre can only deal with queries from clinicians and GP practice staff. Patient enquiries should be addressed by GP practices using the FAQs provided.