Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews From the Frontline

A write off

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 11 May 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d2934
  1. Des Spence, is a general practitioner, Glasgow
  1. destwo{at}

General practitioners’ NHS records are eccentrically British and brilliant. They stalk you all of your life, wherever you move to in the country. So there is an absolutely complete record of medical care since 1948 —every hospital letter, every GP’s entry and attendance at the emergency department—the lot. This is the world’s greatest untapped source of complete observational longitudinal data. But the records are also riveting reading, with letters from long closed fever and tuberculosis hospitals, handwritten with fading fountain pen, or knocked out on early typewriters. GPs’ entries …

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