NHS Choices has been working closely with the Information Centre for health and social care over the past three months to help primary care trusts check and validate the data on this official government website, which covers more than 40,000 organisations and comprises more than 1 million pieces of information.

Over this period, the Information Centre has made more than 8,500 calls to healthcare organisations to ensure their data is accurate, carried out over 2,000 spot checks on the data, run cross checks against General Medical Council and General Dental Council datasets and run checks against all postcodes and addresses. The centre has also run comparisons with third-party directories to identify errors and duplicate entries and has undertaken ‘mystery shopping’ exercises.

Some data items – such as opening times of surgeries – by their very nature change frequently and therefore could be incorrect within the validation period. Contractors (GPs, dentists, pharmacists, etc) are responsible for notifying the PCT if they make changes, but sometimes this takes a while to filter through. There is a feedback form on the website to help increase the quality of the directory information.

The Information Centre continues to work with PCT and secondary care web editors to try to ensure monthly validation of this information.