Primary care trusts are being advised to contact all GP practices to check if they intend to take part in the IM+T directed enhanced service as an information portal for the DES is launched.

Primis+, the primary care data quality service, is hosting the portal  as part of its commission from NHS Connecting for Health (CfH) to provide free training for the data accreditation element of the DES to all PCTs and practices.

The DES for IM+T is broken down into four components, covering agreement of a practice plan for participation in the National Programme for IT, achieving data accreditation in preparation for the upload of summary records to the spine, taking part in the electronic prescription service and migration to a CfH accredited server. Practices must indicate in writing to PCTs before 1 February 2007 that they wish to participate in the DES which is expected to run over two years to 31 March 2008.

A spokesperson for Primis said that, ahead of detailed guidelines and documentation on the data accreditation element of the DES, practices could continue the work they have already been doing with their local facilitators on data quality and information management.

She added: “If they do not already have paperless accreditation, they should ensure that the PCT evaluates them as soon as possible. PCTs should start checking with a simple phone call to see how many of their practices are thinking of participating in this DES – this will help them plan resources. They should also ensure that they will have assessors in place ready for training in the late autumn.”

The Primis+ portal on the DES is designed to provide information and resources to those involved in applying for data accreditation and includes information about training, frequently asked questions on the data accreditation element of the DES and a discussion forum.

Primis+ is currently piloting training for its network of facilitators who will help prepare practices make their submission for the DES. The training covers training methods and materials for use with practices plus e-audits.

A Primis+ spokesperson said Primis is working with facilitators from 10 PCTs all over the country with the first half participating in a training session last week and the second half due to have their training session next week.

She added: “Once they have had their training, they will receive all the draft items in the toolkit, together with query sets in CHART, which they will use in five practices in their PCTs, thus covering 50 practices in all. “

Primis+ then intends to evaluate all the training components and aims to publish templates, guidance and query sets as soon as they have been approved by the Data Accreditation Board.

Best practice guidelines will include a practice plan template, an example action plan, a training needs assessment toolkit and a checklist to guide PCTs, facilitators and practices through the whole process.

Primis+ will also train assessors who will visit practices to qualitatively assess the quality of the recording of the notes against the standards after a quantative analysis of data taken from the practice computer.

A free CfH conference on the data accreditation element of the IM+T DES takes place in London on 12 September.

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