National Audit Office Press Releases
General Practice Extraction Service - Investigation
The National Audit Office has today published the findings from its investigation into the General Practice Extraction Service (GPES), an IT system designed to allow NHS organizations to extract data from all GP practice computer systems in England. This data would be used to monitor quality, plan and pay for health services and help medical research.
The key findings of the investigation are as follows:
- The project has been significantly delayed and many customers have yet to receive data. The original business case said the service would start in 2009-10, but it took until April 2014 for Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) to provide the first GPES data extract to a customer.
- Mistakes in the original procurement and contract management contributed to losses of public funds, through asset write-offs and settlements with suppliers. The total expected cost of the GPES programme increased from £14 million to £40 million during the planning and procurement stage. Further cost increases have been smaller, but the project has had at least £5.5 million of write-offs and delay costs. The need for the service remains and further public expenditure is needed to improve GPES or replace it.
- Only one customer, NHS England has so far received data from GPES. The time needed to design a new type of extract and restrictions in the contracts severely limits HSCIC's ability to provide data to those who request it. It is unlikely that GPES in its current form can provide the NHS-wide service planned.
These issues were brought to the attention of the National Audit Office through its financial audit of the HSCIC. The NAO observed during its visit that the system was not working as expected and that additional costs had been incurred through a settlement with one of the main suppliers, Atos IT Services UK Ltd.
Notes for Editors
- This report is a National Audit Office Investigation. The NAO conducts investigations to establish the underlying facts in circumstances where concerns have been raised with us, or in response to intelligence that we have gathered through our wider work.
- Unlike in secondary care, data collection and analysis in primary care is fragmented, despite primary care being responsible for approximately 90% of patients’ interactions with the NHS.
- Work on the GPES project began in 2007, first by the NHS Information Centre, and then by the HSCIC. GPES would be able to extract statistics about a group of people (such as the number in in a practice receiving a particular diagnosis) and individual ‘patient level’ data. The NAO has examined progress from then until the present. On 31 March 2013, the NHS Information Centre closed and responsibility transferred to the new Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). The HSCIC combines the Department of Health's informatics functions (previously known as NHS Connecting for Health or CFH) and the former NHS Information Centre.
- The NAO investigation did not examine the methods or policy adopted by the HSCIC to govern the use of patient identifiable data that could be extracted via GPES, or the wider Care.Data project. The NAO has not sought to assess the value for money of the GPES project overall.
- Press notices and reports are available from the date of publication on the NAO website, which is at the NAO's website. Hard copies can be obtained by using the relevant links on our website.
- The National Audit Office scrutinises public spending for Parliament and is independent of government. The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), Sir Amyas Morse KCB, is an Officer of the House of Commons and leads the NAO, which employs some 810 people. The C&AG certifies the accounts of all government departments and many other public sector bodies. He has statutory authority to examine and report to Parliament on whether departments and the bodies they fund have used their resources efficiently, effectively, and with economy. Our studies evaluate the value for money of public spending, nationally and locally. Our recommendations and reports on good practice help government improve public services, and our work led to audited savings of £1.15 billion in 2014.
Latest News from
National Audit Office Press Releases
Employment support09/06/2021 12:05:00
The extension of the furlough scheme to September 2021 has meant that the real impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment is unclear. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) faces the challenge of monitoring this impact once furlough ends, to ensure it can adapt and provide the appropriate support to the right groups of people at the right time.
Investigation into the Windrush Compensation Scheme24/05/2021 11:15:00
The National Audit Office (NAO) finds that the Windrush Compensation Scheme has not yet met its objective of compensating claimants quickly.
Initial learning from the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic19/05/2021 11:15:00
Over the last year, the National Audit Office has reported on the breadth of government’s response to COVID-19. Today’s report draws out the initial learning from this work to help government evaluate its performance, capitalise on new ways of working and better manage potential future emergencies.
The adult social care market in England26/03/2021 11:15:00
Short-term funding and the lack of a long-term vision has hampered planning, innovation and investment in adult social care.
Investigation into government funding to charities during the COVID-19 pandemic24/03/2021 12:05:00
This report from the National Audit Office (NAO) finds that as at 19 February 2021, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (the Department) had disbursed £454 million of £494 million it made available to support charities during the COVID-19 pandemic. It did so through seven schemes and a network of nearly 200 partners, and intends to award and disburse funding until 31 March 2021.
Public Service Pensions19/03/2021 12:15:00
Today’s report from the National Audit Office (NAO) finds that government’s reforms to public service pensions have helped contain the rise in future costs to the taxpayer. However, the government could do more to consider how pensions can help recruit and retain staff.
Support for children’s education during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic18/03/2021 11:15:00
The Department for Education (the Department) took action to support schools and pupils in response to COVID-19, including ensuring that schools remained open for vulnerable children and funding online resources for those learning at home.
Timeliness of local auditor reporting on local government in England, 202016/03/2021 11:25:00
The National Audit Office (NAO) today reports that less than half of local councils, local police and local fire bodies’ 2019-20 audits were completed by the revised deadline of 30 November 2020, despite this having been pushed back to take account of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.