GP practices are likely to start testing of GP2GP record transfers between practices with different systems next month.

Practices using INPS’s Vision system in Croydon have already installed version 1.1 of the GP2GP software and three EMIS practices in Croydon are in the process of receiving the update.

Sean Riddell, managing director of EMIS, told EHI Primary Care that the company expected to receive technical authority to deploy the software from NHS Connecting for Health (CfH) in about two weeks time.

He said the practices will initially use the new version of the software to do EMIS-to-EMIS and INPS-to-INPS transfers to make sure that works and when that has been shown to be safe the practices will move on to EMIS-to-INPS transfers,.

He added: “I would be disappointed if we are not transferring records between EMIS and INPS practices by the end of February.”

The British Medical Association’s General Practitioner Committee told GPs last month that it hoped testing of the interoperable system would be complete by spring 2007 and the software would then be rolled out, with the GP2GP team looking to recruit interested practices from the beginning of this year.

The GPC added: “Interested practices should liaise with their PCT as the preference is to roll the system out across communities (ie in clusters of practices rather than individual practices) to maximise the benefit from local patient movements.”

EMIS announced this week that is ahead of schedule on its contract with CfH to install version 1.0 of the GP2GP software in 250 practices by the end of 2006 and 500 by the end of March this year.

Riddell said approximately 290 practices had received the software by Christmas and the company was confident of meeting the target of 500 sites by the end of the financial year.

Andy Whitwam, EMIS’s director of software services, said: “Feedback from doctors is positive, with many commenting on the convenience of being able to transfer patient records electronically when a patient moves surgery. Crucially we’ve also been able to ensure transfer of records includes attachments because most EMIS practices save attachments within the patient record rather than externally.”

An INPS spokesperson told EHI Primary Care that INPS has 55 sites live with GP2GP spread across Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Bury and Croydon.