Methodological issues in the development of a national database for primary care groups and trusts
At the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre (NPCRDC) we have constructed a national database for all primary care groups (PCGs) in England. At its core, the database links information about population socio-economic and demographic characteristics to generic health status and to the organisation, resourcing and activities of general practice. In this paper we describe and discuss the problems with linking these data, and with defining the boundaries and the local populations of PCGs, given that they have been established on the basis of administrative expediency rather than geographical coherence. We then consider the implications of these difficulties for needs assessment in primary care groups.