OpenSAFELY NHS Service Restoration Observatory 2
OpenSAFELY NHS Service Restoration Observatory 2: changes in primary care activity across six clinical areas during the COVID-19 pandemic
How to cite: Curtis HJ, MacKenna B, Wiedemann M et al. OpenSAFELY NHS Service Restoration Observatory 2: changes in primary care activity across six clinical areas during the COVID-19 pandemic. British Journal of General Practice 2023; BJGP.2022.0301
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted healthcare activity across a broad range of clinical services. The NHS stopped non-urgent work in March 2020, later recommending services be restored to near-normal levels before winter where possible.
Using routinely collected data, our aim was to describe changes in the volume and variation of coded clinical activity in general practice in: (i) cardiovascular disease, (ii) diabetes, (iii) mental health, (iv) female and reproductive health, (v) screening, and (vi) processes related to medication.
Design and setting
With the approval of NHS England, we conducted a cohort study of 23.8 million patient records in general practice, in-situ using OpenSAFELY
We selected common primary care activity using CTV3 codes and keyword searches from January 2019 - December 2020, presenting median and deciles of code usage across practices per month.
We identified substantial and widespread changes in clinical activity in primary care since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with generally good recovery by December 2020. A few exceptions showed poor recovery and warrant further investigation, such as mental health, e.g. “Depression interim review” (median across practices in December 2020 -41.6% compared to December 2019).
Granular NHS GP data at population-scale can be used to monitor disruptions to healthcare services and guide the development of mitigation strategies. The authors are now developing real-time monitoring dashboards for key measures identified here as well as further studies, using primary care data to monitor and mitigate the indirect health impacts of Covid-19 on the NHS.