(Scottish Primary Care Information Resource)

In May 2017 NHS Scotland is improving the way it uses information from GP patient records to help plan health and care services in Scotland.

What is SPIRE?

SPIRE is the Scottish Primary Care Information Resource. It is a service that will allow small amounts of information from GP practice records to be used to help doctors’ surgeries, NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government to improve care and plan services. SPIRE can also help with research into new treatments for particular conditions or diseases, to monitor outbreaks (of flu for example) and to develop new medicines.

Will SPIRE keep my data?

SPIRE is not a national database. It helps your GP practice use their data, and also helps with specific, approved requests of information from practices, for example for research. SPIRE will not routinely collect patient information or extract information unless it is needed for a specific, approved purpose. SPIRE will not store information for longer than necessary, and any information is safely destroyed after use. SPIRE will not produce one big database of patients from all over Scotland.

What information will be used?

To understand and analyse the data, information such as your date of birth, gender, vaccinations, diagnoses and prescribed medicines, will be used from your GP patient records. To protect your confidentiality, these details will be encrypted before they are sent. So you can be confident that your information is secure at all times. You will not be able to be identified from this information

Who will be able to access the information gathered through SPIRE?

The information will be used by trained and authorised analysts at NHS National Services Scotland, for example, to work out the total number of people in Scotland with a particular illness. Individual data will be grouped together to produce national and local Health Board summaries, which will be publicly available. You will not be able to be identified from these reports. Some NHS Scotland organisations such as Health Boards will be able to request information to perform their own analysis, for instance, to understand what is happening within local services. Health researchers from outside the NHS Scotland (for example, charity or university researchers) will have to apply to an independent steering group if they want to use the information. Permission will only be considered where there is a clear health benefit and where patient confidentiality can be maintained at all times. The steering group includes members of the public who represent patients’ interests.

Do I need to agree for my information to be used in SPIRE?

No, you do not need to do anything if you are happy for your information to be used in SPIRE. However, if you do not want your information to be used, you can opt out (please see below). This will not affect your patient rights or the care you receive from your practice.

For further information please see:

SPIRE – Main Page

SPIRE – Your questions answered

SPIRE – Patient Leaflet

SPIRE – Opt-Out Form