News, Primary Care News

NHS Digital publishes primary care stats on COVID-19 patients for the first time

Statistics about COVID-19 patients in primary care have now been published by NHS Digital, as part of its new ‘Coronavirus as Recorded in Primary Care’ publication.

It marks the first time this information – which includes the number of people in England recorded by GPs with either a positive COVID-19 test or with COVID-19 symptoms, displayed over time, between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021 – has been widely shared.

It’s hoped that, as testing was not as accessible during the early stages of the pandemic, stats from GPs and practices could capture information not available through other data sets and help understanding about the prevalence of COVID-19 in different populations.

Key points from the primary care analysis, which covers a time span of just over a year, include that one in 18 patients (3, 267, 820 people) in England tested positive for, or were clinically diagnosed with, COVID-19.

It also found that the rates of COVID-19 positive patients registered for primary care in England were:

  • Highest in female patients, with rates of one in 16, compared to one in 20 male patients
  • Highest in patients in the Bangladeshi ethnic group, with one in 10 patients
  • Lowest in patients in the Chinese ethnic group, one in 58
  • Highest in patients aged over 90-years-old, one in eight
  • Lowest in patients between the ages of five and 11, one in 40
  • Highest in the North West at one in 15, and lowest in the South West at one in 24
  • Highest in the 20% of most deprived patients, one in 15
  • Lowest in the 21% least deprived patients, one in 21

Available in an open data file, it is important to note that the data and analysis provided are regarded as ‘Experimental Statistics’, as they are classed as being still in the ‘developmental phase and ‘may have issues pertaining to data quality’, according to NHS Digital. It states that, although ‘data suggests that COVID-19 affected patient groups differently over time’, it also reflects ‘differences in infection rates or differences in how the different groups tested or approached their GP’,

The analysis uses a new data set called the GP extraction service Data for Pandemic Planning & Research (GDPPR) – a new, more efficient primary care data collection service – which was launched by NHS Digital earlier this month, to support better healthcare planning and research through near-real-time information.

Feedback on the data is welcomed by NHS Digital, which asks for comments to be sent to with “Coronavirus as recorded in primary care” in the subject line.

To view the full report on COVID-19 primary care stats, visit