Marking 50 Years of disease monitoring at the RCGP Research and Surveillance Centre

Posted by Professor Simon de Lusignan on 05 December 2017

Have you ever needed primary care data for your research and couldn’t find what you needed? Are you interested in conducting observational or intervention studies? The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Research and Surveillance Centre (RSC) probably has what you need.

We have over 250 practices who are members of the network, across England.  We have been in existence since 1967 (60 years) and have completed 50 years of influenza and respiratory disease surveillance in collaboration with Public Health England and its predecessor organisations.  It is also part of the national and European public health system. The RCGP RSC is one of the oldest sentinel networks in Europe.

Currently approximately 200 practices are contributing pseudonymised data. These data include: morbidity illness, microbiological, and prescription data. They are uploaded twice a week. The current denominator covered is approximately 2,000,000 patients. The dataset is one of the most up to date in the UK. Ideally we are looking to form long-term partnerships with research groups looking at studying a particular area in depth.

Our data has the following unique characteristics:

  • Freshness- with twice weekly data extractions, the dataset is one of the most up to date in the UK
  • Good quality- practices in the network receive continuous feedback and education regarding accurate coding in the patient’s electronic health record.  Practices are linked to a dashboard about key data for studies that is refreshed twice per week.
  • Capability for data linkage – we have the capability to link to hospital and mortality data, and other data such as cancer registries, mental health, etc.
  • Representativeness- the RCGP RSC is representative of the English population on a variety of domains, both demographic and clinical

If this seems just like the type of data you need for your research, please contact us. You will need to submit a data request and a protocol and we will guide you through the approval process. For more information, please visit our website:    

Our dedicated team will be able to help you with any aspect in your research. Our skills include:

  • Technical- we have a small, but efficient data team of SQL developers and analysts
  • Clinical- we have various clinicians in our team, who are available to assist with clinical knowledge
  • Academic- we also have Research Fellows who would be able to assist with writing for publications
  • Practice Liaison Officers- our Practice Liaison Officers have built a unique relationship with our practices and are also ensuring that the quality of the data is constantly improving

For more information about our data, please see an article describing the cohort profile when it moved to University of Surrey in 2015:


In the following table, contact information relevant to the page. The first column is for visual reference only. Data is in the right column.

Name: Professor Simon de Lusignan
Job title: Head of the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine
Department: Clinical and Experimental Medicine
Organisation: University of Surrey

Professor Simon de Lusignan, University of Surrey.  Professor de Lusignan leads the Clinical Informatics research group.