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About the GP Surveillance Scheme

IntroductionGP surveillance scheme

GP surveillance of infections in Wales is an important surveillance scheme run by The Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre (CDSC), which has been providing useful information on frequencies and distributions of certain infections in Wales since 1985. 
Currently the scheme consists of a volunteer sample of 44 Welsh practices (covering a total population of approximately  355,000 patients), which report cases of measles, mumps, rubella, shingles, chicken pox, pneumonia and influenza to CDSC on a weekly basis. In addition to these eight infections, we are also collecting data on some other conditions-these may vary depending on the season and on other factors.
Anonymised data for each infection is analysed by time, sex and place. Feedback is provided to all participating practices and to healthcare professionals throughout Wales and Europe in a weekly newsletter. Data from the scheme are also posted on the Public Health Wales website obtainable from the link: GP Surveillance Newsletter


Previously anonymous basic information of patients with any of the eight infections (measles, mumps, rubella, shingles, chicken pox, pneumonia and influenza), including sex, age group and diagnosis date, were recorded on a notepad provided by CDSC Wales. The practice manager/senior receptionist transfers these details to a master form, which was returned to CDSC Wales using one of the following methods; pre-paid post, fax, email or telephone.
Public Health Wales has been working with the NHS Wales Informatics Service’s Primary Care Informatics Programme to automate the surveillance scheme and make it easier for participating practices.  The new scheme uses the ‘Data Quality System’. This software, sponsored by Welsh Assembly Government and endorsed by GPC Wales, has a general practice based module, ‘Audit +’, and a central web-based repository of anonymous aggregated data that will support public health surveillance. This central repository, ‘AuditWeb’, is hosted at NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS). A core Audit+ module allows for transfer of data on cases of certain diseases as anonymised aggregated data. This process is scheduled to take place overnight outside of practice working hours and is fully automated. As is the case of all modules reporting to Audit Web, no personal identifiable information is extracted.
Since week 40 2010 (week ending 10 October), the sentinel GP practices are reporting data collected using the automated data collection system Audit+.
As well as collecting data on the eight infections previously reported in the weekly report , we will be collecting data on consultations for other diseases, including, for the first time, some diseases that are not infectious: heatstroke and severe asthma.  Collection of data on these, and other diseases such as: measles, mumps, diarrhoea and vomiting, will assist in Public Health Wales’ response during public health emergencies.
Built into the design of the ‘Data Quality System’ is the capacity to extend reporting from the current 44 sentinel practices to all practices in Wales with Audit+ installed, and to increase the frequency of reporting from weekly to daily. This facility was used during the swine influenza A (H1N1) outbreak in 2009, and may be used in the event of another significant public health incident, such as a major outbreak. 

Enhanced Influenza Surveillance Scheme

In 2005, with funding from the Welsh Assembly Government, enhanced virological surveillance of influenza was also successfully introduced. Virological surveillance of respiratory infections is an important component of influenza surveillance Wales. Throughout the year, the network of Sentinel GPs in Wales collect swab samples from patients presenting with influenza symptoms, which then undergo virological testing. This allows Public Health Wales CDSC to monitor circulation of respiratory viruses in Wales that present with symptoms similar to influenza. This surveillance proved very useful during the 2009/10 pandemic.


If you wish to discuss any aspect of the scheme in further detail please contact Dr Simon Cottrell on 029 20402472 

Last updated: 21/01/2011