Berkshire Shared Services has completed the migration of all its GP practices to NHSmail, resulting in an expected cost saving of £150,000.

The organisation, which covers Berkshire East and West primary care trusts, has completed the migration of 108 practices and 4,500 staff.

It has been working since 2006 to migrate users to NHSmail from its "obsolete" Exchange structure and ageing hardware, which it says it no longer has the funds to support.

Dr Ishak Nadeem, a GP at Grovelands Medical Centre in Reading, told E-Health Insider: “In 2006 we went live across three pilot sites, where we established migration a process and found ourselves in quite a complex situation.

“We wanted a self contained solution. NHS Connecting for Health supported the migrations from 2006-09, but after this point we had to migrate 60% of practices using our own internally developed procedures to enable a self contained solution.”

Following the pilot, Berkshire Shared Services asked a number of practices to present project briefs for the migration from Exchange to NHSmail.

Andy Ferrari, primary care IT project manager, said: “When the project briefs were presented it became clear that the costs savings were favourable [at] around £150,000 per year based on reducing server infrastructure and hardware support.”

“We have pulled the plug on for over 50% of practices. As practices migrate to hosted clinical systems, or have their clinical services replaced, Exchange servers are being decommissioned.

"We’re decommissioning a significant proportion of Exchange boxes, which cost around £6,000 per practice over a three year period.”

Berkshire Shared Services said that when it has called CfH for assistance it has been “very supportive.”

Ferrari added: “If we had concerns about any potential risks, they would cover over on the drop of a hat. During the implementation process we needed more resources setting up outlook clients within NHSmail.

“CfH powered the resource to help us go out and configure over 1,000 workstations and supported us financially for that.”

Earlier this year, the head of the NHSmail programme, Will Moss, told EHI that he wants “most” NHS organisations to have migrated to NHSmail by the time its current contract expires in July 2013.

EHI readers were skeptical about whether the £879,000 savings over five years that he referenced could really be made.

Dr Nadeem added: “Other than the cost saving benefits, we’ve found the system to be very user friendly. The speed on N3 network was a big issue at first, but more recently it’s become stable. The benefits of being able to send clinical data securely have gone down really well.”

Berkshire Shared Services is now considering how it can reap the benefits of text facilities within the NHSmail service to reduce ‘did not attend’ rates.

It is also considering how it can manage the migration in a more corporate environment across the two PCTs and the Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.