SPIRE Information System Set to Boost Public Health

Published on: 8th March 2017

The launch of an improved information service yesterday (Tuesday 7 March) will allow GPs, the NHS in Scotland and researchers to better understand the health and social care needs of the population.

The Scottish Primary Care Information Resource (SPIRE) will provide a safe, secure and adaptable system across Scotland to help analyse the nation’s health and more effectively target resources and treatments.

SPIRE will allow practices to better plan their services and health professionals to make the right decisions and raise the standard of public health.

The benefits of SPIRE include:

• Improving the quality of care for all patients
• Planning services and care for people who have a condition or a health need
• Responding to major public health issues like flu epidemics
• Improving the provision of health and care to vulnerable or disadvantaged groups
• Developing knowledge about the uptake of vital medicines and vaccines.
• Supporting research into new treatments for particular illnesses

Dr Catherine Calderwood, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, said: “Today’s launch is the start of our campaign to ensure everyone in Scotland is aware of the way we are improving how we use information from GP patient records, and demonstrate how this will help plan and improve health and care services.

“SPIRE is a fantastic example of how Scottish society as a whole can benefit from analysing data from NHS systems. It will enable anonymised health data from GPs to be used to both support GPs themselves and to analyse the nation’s health and help us to more effectively target resources and treatments.”

Dr Alan McDevitt, Chair of BMA Scotland General Practitioners’ Committee, said:
“It means GPs can, for example, analyse how many of their diabetic patients have got eye problems, and then maybe do some more screening and interventions to reduce those problems. They could look at the number of patients with stroke who have disabilities and perhaps get them on to an exercise programme. There are many different examples of how, with the right information, you can target the right kind of things to help people with their everyday lives.

‘We need a better understanding of the health of Scotland’s population, and know where to spend our money, time and resources, to make it better. We need Scotland to be a healthier nation and SPIRE is essential for that.”

Dr Libby Morris, Clinical Lead for SPIRE, said: “SPIRE is a major step forward for public health in Scotland and will allow information from GP patient records to be safely transferred electronically to NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) and held securely, ensuring the highest standards of patient confidentiality and privacy.

“Doctors’ surgeries, NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government will be able to improve care and plan services, while researchers can use information that could help to develop new treatments for particular conditions or diseases.”

SPIRE has been developed with the Royal College of GPs and the Scottish GP committee of the British Medical Association, with a clear focus on robust governance and security to ensure that patient information is safeguarded. GP practices will have control over all data sent outside the practice.

Patient representatives have played an active role in both the SPIRE project board and an Independent Advisory Group to ensure that patient views and concerns were taken into account at every stage of development.

People who are content for their data to be used by SPIRE do not need to do anything but those who would like more information can visit or call NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88.

For more information visit

Source: NHS National Services Scotland 

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