RCGP Research and Surveillance Practice


This practice is participating in a national research and surveillance programme that provides continuous monitoring of infection and disease in the community. This national monitoring network is a surveillance system which monitors changes in the incidence of disease and it is run by the Royal College of General Practitioners Research and Surveillance Centre.

This page provides information on this system and how information that the RCGP collect from the surgery is used.

1. What is the Royal College of General Practitioners?

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) is the academic organisation in the UK for general practitioners (family doctors). Its aim is to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the ‘voice’ of doctors on education, training and quality issues.

2. What is the Research and Surveillance Centre National Monitoring Network?

The Research and Surveillance Centre National Monitoring Network is a network of GP surgeries across England and Wales that contribute medical information to an electronic database. It is run and managed by a small team of highly skilled staff. The information collected by the network is used for the surveillance of a range of common infections and diseases that doctors regularly diagnose during consultations with their patients. Its current focus is on spotting changes in infections and other diseases. The Research and Surveillance Centre National Monitoring Network is funded by Public Health England.

3. Why is this network important?

“Surveillance” is the monitoring of infections and diseases in the community. Normally, this is important for knowing how common certain diseases are in the population. For example, the network can monitor how much influenza there is during the winter, if this exceeds normal levels doctors and hospitals can be informed to warn them that they might expect to see increased numbers of patients. Diseases that were thought to be rare, but are now increasing can also be monitored e.g. measles. Surveillance is also important for responding to specific incidents that might affect the health of the public, the current COVID-19 pandemic for example.

4. How is information from each consultation used?

Each time that a patient consults with our team, the clinician enters information into their medical record; this information includes the a coded entry indicating the doctor’s diagnosis. Up to twice a week, we perform a search on the surgery computer system for coded information about all new diagnoses that have been made during the last 7 days. These diagnoses include information about diseases e.g. influenza, other medical conditions e.g. heart palpitations, and also information about other activities in the surgery such as vaccination procedures. The data extracted from the computer system is pseudonymised – meaning all identifying information is removed from the record so that you or other patients cannot be identified from these extracted records.

5. How does it affect me?

All information collected is pseudonymised and does not affect patient care, treatment or privacy in any way. The information is extremely important for protecting the whole population and we hope therefore you will feel happy to contribute. The project has been registered with the Information Commissioner’s office (ICO) and all measures necessary to ensure that patient confidentiality is maintained have been taken. You can decide not to allow your information to be used. Please contact the Practice if you would like to opt out of the data extraction.

6. What is the difference between anonymised and pseudonymised data?

Anonymised data is unrecognisable, even to the original data owner, meaning individuals cannot be re-identified.

In pseudonymised data, identifiable data is replaced with an alternative identifier that bears no resemblance to the true value. Re-identification of data can only be achieved with knowledge of the algorithm used to de-identify it. This allows the team to link any data they also receive from secondary care (hospitals) or sample testing laboratories.

7. What about GDPR?

RCGP RSC are compliant with all current legislation including GDPR and work within the governance frameworks of NHS Digital and the Medical Research Council.

8. Where can I get further information from?

More information on the RCGP RSC is available at:

RCGP – Clinical and Research Programmes

You can also browse the RCGP RSC website which offers free access to a variety of reports and scientific papers.

The team have produced a patient information leaflet

They can also be contacted directly:

Email: [email protected]