New service to improve Scotland’s health

GP records let doctors provide patients with the care they need, but are also the closest thing that we have to a comprehensive lifelong record of a patient's health and the treatment they receive.

As such, GP records are an extremely valuable source of information providing the potential for NHSScotland to learn more about the health needs of the population and how best to address those needs.

Now a new service that has been developed to help GPs, the NHS in Scotland and researchers to learn from information held at GP practices.

Known as SPIRE (Scottish Primary Care Information Resource), the service will be used to help plan for Scotland’s health and care needs.

DR Miles Mack, Chair of RCGP in Scotland explained: “It’s fair to say that the whole of Scotland’s health could improve as a result of SPIRE.

“At the moment much of our data about ill health in Scotland is based on various surveys and probably the most consistent thing is the medical cause of death. But actually why aren’t we looking upstream of that and actually looking at the illnesses that are out there at the moment?”

SPIRE will allow information from GP patient records to be transferred electronically and held securely at NHS National Services Scotland, the NHSScotland organisation responsible for health statistics.

It uses information from GP practices all over Scotland in a safe and secure way.

NHS organisations and approved researchers will be able to use SPIRE in ways that could help you and everyone in Scotland.

How will patients benefit?

  • It will be easier for practices to monitor patients on particular medications and make sure they are getting the right follow-up care
  • Your surgery will be able to better meet your needs, particularly if you have a long-term medical condition
  • SPIRE will help with research into new treatments for particular illnesses and conditions that you might suffer from
  • It will be easier for the NHS to look at how many people have certain health problems and to plan services.

SPIRE will help your practice provide you with better care and services and help with the following:

  • Planning the practice time and staffing levels more efficiently
  • Analysing the number of patients that have certain illnesses or looking at the medicines they are prescribed
  • Keeping more accurate medical records with better quality of information
  • Responding more easily to research requests from organisations like charities or university researchers
  • Groups of practices who work together in a community can look at what conditions or illnesses are most common in the area.

How will the NHS and Scotland benefit?

Being able to use this information will mean NHSScotland can:

  • Improve the quality of care for all patients
  • Plan services and care for people who have a condition or a health need
  • Respond to major public health issues like flu epidemics
  • Improve the provision of health and care to vulnerable or disadvantaged groups
  • Develop knowledge about the uptake of vital medicines and vaccines.
  • Support research into new treatments for particular illnesses

SPIRE will be introduced in phases across Scotland from January 2017, and a Public Information Campaign will run in March 2017.