Multiple Sclerosis: key data sources

Practice team information

The Practice team information (PTI) scheme collects information on all consultations with members of the primary care team for a sample of around 60 Scottish practices. The main limitation of PTI as a source of information about multiple sclerosis (MS) arises from the fact that prevalence estimates are based on primary care consultations and that the natural course of MS means there may be long periods of remission from the disease during which patients may have little or no contact with the health service. In addition, PTI only records the reason for consultation, so that consultations for other health problems by people who happen to have MS will not be recorded as MS. While PTI data provide a good estimate of the number of people consulting the primary care team because of MS, they will tend to considerably underestimate the prevalence of the condition. More information is available in the page in this section which covers primary care data.

However, as of September 2013,PTI data is no longer collected. A new national GP information system known as
the Scottish Primary Care Information Resource (SPIRE) is in development which will supersede and build on the data collected for PTI. SPIRE aims to include richer data from a greater number of practices and will help to inform public health surveillance, research and data linkage. Further benefits will see the creation of a mechanism to feedback data analysis to practices and an improved data extraction process.

Data on hospital discharges 

The SMR01 database holds records of all inpatient and day case activity in NHS hospitals in Scotland as well as linked data on deaths in Scotland provided by the National Records of Scotland (formerly the General Register Office for Scotland). A general overview of this scheme is available in the section on key data sources: hospital discharges. Because people with MS are not routinely admitted to hospital to make the diagnosis, and because much of their care is delivered in primary care settings, SMR01 data are not suitable for estimating the prevalence of the condition. Data from hospital discharges are presented in the section on secondary care.

Data on outpatient attendances 

The SMR00 database holds records of outpatient attendances in the NHS in Scotland. It provides information about the speciality providing care (for example in the case of MS, neurology or general medical clinics) but not specific diagnostic information. As a result it is not a reliable guide to prevalence or to the workload associated with MS.