Central Manchester and Manchester Children’s University Hospitals NHS Trust have launched a system that enables clinical correspondence to be electronically exchanged between hospitals and GP practices, providing overnight delivery of patient discharge information when they leave hospital.

Using software from clinical correspondence specialists Medisec, the system provides electronic links will be used between all the trust’s six hospitals and 69 GPs within central and south Manchester – and lays the foundations for wider sharing of clinical information.

Following successful pilot trials, the technology has already been installed in 28 GP practices and it is planned to roll it out to a further 41 surgeries. Some 454 staff at the trust and in linked GP practices are so far using the Medisec system to produce around 38,000 letters a month.

The clinical correspondence software automatically generates clinic attendance letters, discharge notification forms and discharge summaries for electronic delivery direct to surgeries. This means that discharge information is issued overnight and available to a GP the next morning, helping them to provide improved care to patients.

Don Crombie, clinical systems manager at Central Manchester and Manchester Children’s University Hospitals NHS Trust said "the technology is helping us to significantly improve the quality and turnaround times of our documents".

Crombie added: "As patient information is immediately accessible to all authorised users throughout the hospitals, it also saves time by reducing queries about admissions, discharges and clinic appointments. With Medisec, we can check how full our clinics are, access a complete history of admissions and appointments and view all future appointments for any patient.”

Additional benefits of the system include enabling GPs to also access patient records securely online, allowing them to check in-patient and out-patient activity – including future out-patient appointments, past clinic attendance notes and out-patient letters – for any of their patients.

Thanks to the Medisec system all ccorrespondence signed off in the hospital is available for download to practice systems the next morning and then attached to the patient record.

Because the information is delivered electronically, documents can be loaded into practice systems without dual keying or scanning – saving time and avoiding typographical errors. GPs can view letters individually or download them in bulk for processing. As well as reducing delivery times, the system also means that no letters are lost.

David Whitehead, practice business manager at West Point Medical Centre in Levenshulme, Manchester said: “Medisec software has been pivotal in improving the quality and availability of patient information for us. It’s very popular with administrative staff as it eliminates the need to scan or re-input documents.

He estimated that the software was saving the 7,000 patient practice at least an hour every day. "As well as saving us time and effort, it directly addresses one of the major ongoing problems in the NHS. GP practices often do not receive any discharge information about their patients following hospital treatment until weeks after they have left, and sometimes not at all,” said Whitehead.

Tom Rothwell, managing director of system designers Medisec Software added: “By delivering patient information quickly and securely, the software gives surgeries high quality information at the right time. A patient can potentially be seen at Manchester Royal Infirmary in the morning and visit his GP for follow-up care the next day and they will be fully up-to-speed with his condition and developments at the hospital.”

Manchester hospitals covered by the initiative include Manchester Royal Infirmary, Saint Mary’s Hospital for Women & Children, Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, University Dental Hospital of Manchester, Booth Hall and Royal Manchester Children’s Hospitals. GPs from central and south Manchester will be connected.