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NHS Scotland Launches GP Information Sharing System

National Health Service Scotland has launched an information sharing system to support planning in health and social care.

NHS Scotland SPIRE system has gone live now which will allow GPs to share anonymised patient information for research purposes.

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) and the British Medical Association (BMA) Scottish GP Committee has developed the Scottish Primary Care Information Resource (Spire) system. The Spire system will send encrypted data from GP practices to NHS National Services Scotland in order to “better understand the health and social care needs of the individuals.

The data will include date of birth, vaccinations, gender, diagnoses and prescribed medicines, but not any names, other personal details or records made by a doctor or nurse. All the data will be encrypted and anonymised before it leaves the GP practice.

According to the NHS National Services Scotland, the spire system is not a national database and will not regularly collect patient data or extract information unless it is needed for a specific, approved reason. The information will not be kept for any longer than necessary, being deleted after use. The Spire system was designed with a focus on strong governance and security, and that GP practices will have control over all data that they make available.

The chair of BMA Scotland General Practitioners’ Committee, Dr Alan McDevitt cited the example of GPs being able to examine how many of their diabetic patients have eye problems then plan for screening and mediations.

He said there are many different examples of how, with the correct information, you can target the right kind of things to help individuals with their daily lives.

The clinical lead for SPIRE, Dr Libby Morris said that the SPIRE is a main step forward for public health in Scotland and will let information from GP patient records to be safely conveyed electronically to NHS National Services Scotland and held securely, guaranteeing the highest values of patient privacy and confidentiality.

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