Practice managers have been asked to re-send nearly 20 years’ worth of immunisation records to NHS England, as part of a national drive for improved child health data.
Practice managers were told the task – which would involve extracting all new registrations and immunisations since October 1999 from GP records – is to ensure there are no gaps in the records held by NHS England.
But the ‘unreasonable’ request was challenged by GP leaders, who raised concerns over workload implications and told practices they are under no obligation to re-send data.
In an email to practices managers, NHS South, Central and West Commissioning Support Unit (CSU) said:
‘As part of a regional and national drive for improved data completeness for Child Health (0-19 year olds) GP data we are requesting that your practice runs a report that will extract all new registrations and immunisations that have occurred since the 1 October 1999 through to the day the report is run.’
‘This needs to be completed by the 19 October 2018 and thereafter an ongoing weekly extract will be needed as part of your NHS England requirements to share child health data,’ the email said.
In a memo to practices, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire LMC said: ‘The LMC has challenged the commissioning support unit on this [request] and they agree that this work is entirely optional. Despite this clarification, we understand they are still sending out reminder emails asking for this work to be done.’
The LMC said that ‘a retrospective 20-year search is not required’ as the data was already sent to commissioning support unit, and ‘there is no statutory or regulatory requirement for practices to do the search they request’.
‘Practices may choose to engage with the weekly electronic submissions if they so wish, but this is entirely optional,’ the memo added.
LMC chief executive officer Dr Matt Mayer said: ‘This could potentially raise a large amount of workload for practices, and as practices have already submitted this data over the last 20 years, it is unreasonable to ask them to do data gathering of behalf of the commissioning unit.’
A spokesperson for NHS South, Central and West CSU said they were ‘asked by NHS England’ to work with local GP practices to ensure that records are as ‘accurate as possible’. This required a ‘validation exercise’ to make sure there are no gaps in the records.
They said: ‘To date, over 50% of the GPs in Buckinghamshire have provided the 0-19 full report (detailing child health records over the last twenty years) electronically. This is increasing the quality of data and ensuring immunisation letters only get sent to those that are eligible.
‘Although GP practices do not have to provide this information, them providing us with this data electronically in a single document is the safest and quickest way for them to ensure child health immunisation records are up to date.
‘It will also save them time as they will then not have to be involved in follow-up calls as we try to validate individual patient records.’
It comes as earlier this month, GPs were advised to refuse requests to carry out public health services for which they are not being paid, in the hope that it would add pressure and allow local representatives to negotiate appropriate fees.
However, NHS England told Management in Practice that they did not actually ask CSUs or Child Health Immunisation Services (CHIS) to repeatedly contact practices for historic immunisation data.
They said that they did, however, provide both CSUs and CHISs with a report generated through the Spine web portal – used for health and social care services in England – that would help them ensure their local record match those at GP practices.
A version of this story was first published on our sister publication Pulse.
Additional reporting by Valeria Fiore