GPs’ ability to oversee care their patients receive could be undermined because the Health Bill risks fragmenting NHS services, a senior GP has warned.
Exchange of data between hospitals and GP practices is already poor and could worsen if multiple private providers win NHS contracts, according to former RCGP diabetes lead Dr Brian Karet.
His comments came after figures from the National Diabetes Audit 2009/10 showed more than 1.3m patients were not offered vital health checks in 2010/11.
Diabetes patients should receive nine basic checks each year, including BP, HbA1c, urine albumin:creatinine ratio and cholesterol.
Dr Karet insisted many more of these checks had been completed than the audit showed, but poor integration of IT systems and coding errors meant many went unreported. ‘Data collection is not as good as it ought to be,’ he said.
He warned that the Bill could worsen the situation. In Bradford, poorly aligned protocols for the structured education programme meant information was exchanged by letter, he said.
Some PCTs commission paediatric services from neighbouring areas which have no access to local GPs’ IT systems, he added. ‘With another level of complexity comes the room for error. Non-integrated IT systems increase the risk of duplication,’ he said.
Dr Karet called for a stipulation within the Health Bill that data collected by private providers can be shared electronically with GP systems.
The coalition government promised an ‘information revolution’ over access to health data, including a drive to open up GP computer systems. GP data will be mined, handed to the NHS Commissioning Board and used to judge GP commissioning.
However, in August 2011, the DH proposed to scrap one in four NHS data collections that it commissions to save an estimated £10m a year.
The DH is to respond this month to findings from a consultation on the issue.