Primary Care News

GP records pilot aims for early identification of Hepatitis C

A pilot programme is to explore how primary care records can be used to identify and diagnose people unknowingly living with Hepatitis C.

Supported by NHS England, MSE and EMIS, the project will use patient search identification software to identify patients with certain conditions, or those at risk of them.

The three month pilot will start in autumn this year, with an aim to search an estimated 300,000 primary care records for patients who have a coded Hepatitis C virus positive test, but no treatment record, and those with at risk factors, such as intravenous drug use, blood transfusions or organ transplantation before 1992. The programme requires GP practices to agree to share the relevant primary care data with specialist secondary care teams within the local Operational Delivery Network.

Once patients are identified, one of the seven Operational Delivery Networks signed up will invite the patient for a review, screening and if appropriate, treatment.

Dr Ian Wood, GP and EMIS Clinical Director, commented: “At a time when primary care is enormously overstretched with both a workload and workforce crisis, it was critical that any new technology aiming to reverse and spearhead this did not exacerbate the capacity issue.

“The pilot aims to address this gap. It realises the value and power of primary care data, combined with EMIS-X Analytics, in identifying cohorts of patients across a region who might benefit from an intervention. This is a challenge that can be tackled well in multiple healthcare settings, so rather than keep these lists within the GP practice, all the necessary data permissions and safeguarding is in place to share with the most relevant healthcare team that can best meet those patients’ needs. It doesn’t have to be the GP – working together across the healthcare industry we can get the best care to the right patients in as efficient a way as possible.”

Dr Stuart Flanagan, Mortimer Market Centre in London and the Hepatitis Lead for Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, added: “Patients at risk from Hepatitis C within primary care are especially hard to reach. But it’s vital that we do. The virus can be asymptomatic for decades with many patients often unaware that they have the condition until it’s developed into far more serious, more difficult to treat conditions, and even fatal illnesses such as cirrhosis, liver disease or cancer.”