BACKGROUND: Established surveillance systems can follow trends in community disease and illness over many years. However, within England there are known regional differences in healthcare utilisation, which can affect interpretation of trends. Here, we explore regional differences for a range of respiratory conditions using general practitioner (GP) consultation data.
METHODS: Daily data for respiratory conditions were extracted from a national GP surveillance system. Average daily GP consultation rates per 100 000 registered patient population were calculated by each region of England and for each study year (2013-17). Consultation rates and incidence rate ratios were also calculated for each condition by deprivation quintile and by rural, urban, and conurbation groups.
RESULTS: Upper and lower respiratory tract infections and asthma were higher in the North and the Midlands than in London and the South, were highest in the most deprived groups and tended to be higher in more urban areas. Influenza-like illness was highest in the least deprived and rural areas.
CONCLUSIONS: There are consistent differences in GP consultation rates across the English regions. This work has improved our understanding and interpretation of GP surveillance data at regional level and will guide more accurate public health messages.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information: This work was supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Emergency Preparedness and Response [AJE, RAM and GES]. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR and the Department of Health and Social Care or Public Health England.
SdeL reports funding from Public Health England through RCGP to support the RCGP Research and Surveillance Centre; through the University of Surrey, he has received grants from GSK, Seqirus and Takeda. All other authors report no potential conflicts.
Open Access: Free to view, but no Open Access licence.
Publisher Copyright: © Crown copyright 2020.
Citation: Sue Smith, Roger Morbey, Simon de Lusignan, Richard G Pebody, Gillian E Smith, Alex J Elliot, Investigating regional variation of respiratory infections in a general practice syndromic surveillance system, Journal of Public Health, Volume 43, Issue 2, June 2021, Pages e153–e160,
- human influenza
- medical geography
- primary healthcare
- public health surveillance
- respiratory tract infections