Frequently asked questions

How did you get my name and address?

Ipsos MORI is sending you this questionnaire on behalf of NHS England. Names were chosen at random from the NHS list of patients registered with a GP. Ipsos MORI will keep your contact details confidential and only use them to send these questionnaires. Once the survey is finished, Ipsos MORI will securely destroy your contact details. Ipsos MORI has no information about patients’ health.

Under the Data Protection Act 1998, as data controller for this survey, NHS England is responsible for the information held about you. The GP Patient Survey is classified as a form of service evaluation, and as such, it does not need to ask patients for permission to send them the survey. However, if you do not want to take part in the future please send your survey number (located at the top of the letter or on the front of the questionnaire) indicating that you wish to opt out to

Have you got access to my health data?

No, absolutely not. Ipsos MORI has only been given your NHS number, name, address, month and year of birth, and gender. We do not have any information about your health – this remains confidential between you and your GP.

We have your NHS number so that we can identify you if you have previously opted-out from the survey to ensure we do not contact you again. We have your name and address so that we can contact you regarding the survey.

Information about month and year of birth and gender will only be used to make sure that the anonymised survey data matches the profile of the practice population as closely as possible.

What happens to my answers?/ Will my doctor see my answers to this survey?

Your answers are put together with the answers from other people and are not linked to your name, address or NHS number. Your individual answers to the questions will be kept confidential by Ipsos MORI, and by approved NHS England staff and researchers. Nobody will be able to identify you in any results that are published.

Who are approved NHS England staff and researchers and how can they use the findings?

NHS England is the data controller for the GP Patient Survey, which means that they are responsible for the data and findings. Some NHS England staff have access to the data so that they can quality check it for official statistics purposes, and so that they can analyse it to understand what it means. Before any other researchers can access the results they must provide details about how they intend to use the data and must apply for special permission in the form of a data access agreement, which safeguards who can use the data, and for what purposes it is used. Permission will only be granted if there is a legal basis to share the data and only if data is being used for research purposes and not for private or commercial gain. After gaining access researchers must only use the data for the purpose stated when they applied for permission. As outlined in principal two of the Data Protection Act, ‘Personal data shall be obtained only for one or more specified and lawful purposes, and shall not be further processed in any manner incompatible with that purpose or those purposes’. Those who gain this permission must also securely store the data and securely delete it once it has been used for the stated purpose.

What precautions for data protection/confidentiality have been taken?

Ipsos MORI, the administrators of the survey, strictly adhere to the Market Research Society Code of Conduct and the Data Protection Act 1998, and treat all personal information as confidential. Stringent measures have been taken to ensure personal information is securely stored and seen only by the personnel directly involved in the project. Once the survey is completed, Ipsos MORI will destroy all contact details securely.

Your individual answers to the questions are not linked to your name, address or NHS number. Ipsos MORI, and approved NHS England staff and researchers, treat individual answers as confidential and adhere to all aspects and provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 and all other relevant legislation, including requirements for secure storage.

How is my doctor involved in this survey?

The questionnaire is being sent to a random selection of people who are registered with a GP in England, and your name was selected randomly from the list of patients registered with a GP held by NHS England.

GP practices should be aware that the survey is taking place. After the survey has been completed they will have access to the anonymised, statistical results for their practice available via this website, but will not have access to individual answers.

Has the survey received ethical approval?

Before starting the first survey in 2007 Ipsos MORI consulted the Central Office for Research Ethics Committee (COREC) and was advised that this survey is ‘service evaluation’ rather than ‘pure research’ – to evaluate the service provided by GPs to their patients. As a result, this survey does not require formal medical research ethical approval. However, Ipsos MORI strictly adheres to the Market Research Society code of research ethics, and the patient details provided are not used for anything other than the purpose of this survey.