In 2011, the Scottish Government set up a short life working group to fully consider the benefits that could arise from making the data from electronic patient records held at General Practices more accessible.

A major conclusion of this working group was that although data was being used effectively to support the care of and treatment of individual patients, it could be used better to support individual patient care and more widely to improve health and social care in Scotland.

It is vital to ensure that the protection of personal information relating to patients is safeguarded, and all use of data is undertaken within robust governance and legal frameworks.

The group proposed that:

  • An improved national service be developed within NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) to facilitate the extraction of data
  • To ensure patient confidentiality is protected at all times, the service must be underpinned by robust governance principles and arrangements, including Information Governance
  • Practices should have the option whether they consent to take part on an ongoing basis
  • Any use of data must be subject to the agreement of all participating practices
  • There would be no impact on practice or NHS Board workload or clinical care as the data is transferred directly and securely from General Practice Information Technology systems
  • Having a single national extract mechanism would streamline and reduce the workload that practices currently have in respect of collating and reporting the data they hold electronically