HC Deb 12 May 1998 vol 312 cc97-8W
Mr. Tredinnick

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will make a statement on the role of the General Practitioners Research Database in formulating policy in respect of(a) reducing waiting lists and (b) applying resources to where they are most needed; [41221]

(2) what steps he has taken to use the data contained on the General Practitioners Research Database to ensure that the use of NHS funds is based on scientifically recorded data; [41219]

(3) what programmes are in operation to categorise the information on drugs, treatment and medical procedures which is recorded on the General Practitioners Research Database to provide doctors and patients with information that is not currently available elsewhere; [41220]

(4) what plans he has to analyse the recorded data on the General Practitioners Research Database concerning the long-term results of treatments, drugs and medical procedures in order to inform doctors of the ongoing results of these treatments. [41218]

Mr. Milburn

The General Practice Research Database (GPRD) is owned by the Department and is a powerful research and analytical tool. It is one of a number of data sources available to the Department, each of which has its strengths and limitations for specific purposes. For example, because of its general practice focus, the GPRD is well suited for many drug safety and pharmaco-epidemiological studies. However, because it is based on a sample of general practices, it is less valuable for making comparisons between health authorities. This would limit its use in resource allocation or in understanding waiting list issues at local level. The GPRD's lack of socio-economic data is also a factor in the way it can be used.

Data from the GPRD are published in Key Health Statistics from General Practice1, and extracts have also been used in the Chief Medical Officer's Annual Report. The Department has used data from the GPRD on a number of occasions. The Medicines Control Agency, which is responsible for medicines regulation, uses data from the GPRD to investigate and evaluate drug safety issues.

Overall, the number of applications to use the GPRD for research studies has increased in the past year and we are keen that this trend should continue.

1 published through The Stationery Office by the Office for National Statistics in 1996