Connecting for Health has implemented GP2GP at 500 practices, almost a month before the planned deadline of 31 March 2007.

The 500th practice received the version 1.0 system on 22 February, five weeks ahead of schedule, meeting the target set last September.

GP2GP record transfers between practices caused by patients moving or switching practice. The service starts when a practice accepts a new or returning patient onto the practice list to receive treatment and ends when the Electronic Health Record (EHR) is transferred from the previous practice into the new GP clinical system. Once the patient is accepted, a message is sent to the previous practice requesting a copy of the patient’s EHR – as long as the originating practice is GP2GP enabled.

CfH’s primary care programme manager, Sandy Scales said: “Achievement of the target is down to an immense amount of hard work, not just from the central GP2GP team but also the suppliers currently involved in the roll-out – EMIS and INPS – plus GP practices and local staff.”

Having reached the target, roll-out is continuing across England as the project team looks to maintain the momentum and get even more primary care trusts and practices involved in the roll-out.

Scales added: “We are still consulting with the suppliers, SHAs, PCTs and other stakeholders about our deployment schedule for 2007/08.”

CfH say practices will be upgraded to version 1.1 – which will facilitate ‘interoperable’ transfers between practices with different clinical systems – once it has been thoroughly trialled at Croydon PCT.

Scales confirmed: “We will be looking to ramp up the roll-out considerably, with more suppliers coming on board over the next 12 months. To have achieved the target for the current financial year with plenty of time to spare is very reassuring.”

A CfH spokesperson added: “Connecting for Health supports the NHS in providing better, safer care by delivering computer systems and services which improve the way patient information is stored and accessed.”

EMIS managing director, Sean Riddell told E-Health Insider Primary Care: “To date, we have installed 520 GP2GP systems and I would say the vast majority of the implementations, overall, maybe 80% have been EMIS systems.

“GP2GP is the start of a persistent from birth to grave system and will have a very very large impact to healthcare. All GP system suppliers that look towards this market should be compliant with the national programme and make the transferring of records between practices easy and efficient, no matter which GP system a practice uses.”

Asked on the progress of GP2GP transfers, currently restricted in size, the CfH spokesperson added: “With regards to the transfer of scanned documents, discussions are still underway with the GP system suppliers to ensure that document management solutions are fully integrated into GP2GP as soon as possible. Current size limits for such documents are 5MB.”