Nine practices in Gateshead PCT are to become the first in England to pilot GP2GP transfer of records next month.

The joint IT committee of the British Medical Association’s GP committee and the Royal College of General Practitioners has given its go ahead for the live implementation of GP2GP record transfer in the PCT.

Dr Paul Cundy, joint chair of the committee, told EHI Primary Care: “We have given approval for live implementation of GP2GP and said we are happy for them to start.”

The practices, all of whom use EMIS, are due to begin using GP2GP functionality for the live transfer of patient records between practices on September 13 according to Connecting for Health’s latest deployment forecast..

Gateshead PCT is one of three early adopter areas for GP2GP and will be the first to start. The Isle of Wight PCT is another early adopter and will test the transfer of records between practices using InPractice Systems’ Vision software. The third early adopter site is Croydon PCT which will test transfers between practices using EMIS and InPractice Systems.

Feedback from all three sites is to be used to shape the wider implementation of GP2GP. Connecting for Health, the agency responsible for the National Programme for IT, had pledged to deliver the functionality to support the GP2GP scheme in phase one release two of its programme which runs from January to December 2005. However, widespread take up will depend on a range of other factors, including how quickly large numbers of GP practices become linked to the spine.

Potential problems with the ability of the NHS spine to cope with the size and number of attachments were raised last month by GP representatives.

Dr Allan Hassey, the other joint chair of the RCGP/GPC IT committee, told EHI Primary Care that a problem with the number and size of attachments that can be sent emerged during the testing phase for GP2GP.

Another source told EHI Primary Care that testing of the system at Gateshead has found half of all practice records are too big for the current version of the NHS spine to handle.

However BT, the suppliers of the spine, said BT is confident that the spine will be able to handle the attachments involved in GP2GP transfer.

Dr Cundy said a request from the GPC for practices to limit the size of attachments in future where possible had been well received by GPs.



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