Secondary care clinicians at Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust now have access to a read-only view of GP records from 22 local EMIS practices.

The milestone marks the completion of the first phase of the Cheshire Health Record programme in Western Cheshire.

Clinicians in the A&E department at the Countess of Chester Hospital and the pharmacy team at Bowmere Hospital now have access to a real time, read-only summary of the GP record from 22 EMIS practices in Western Cheshire.

The Cheshire Health Record provides a framework for the sharing of clinical information electronically between different organisations and is being delivered using EMIS Web.

The current system for sharing patient information relies on GP practices sending faxes.

In October, three INPS practices will also start sharing their records via Healthcare Gateway Limited’s Medical Interoperability Gateway – a joint venture between EMIS and INPS –which facilitates data sharing between healthcare professionals with patient consent.

The Cheshire ICT service hopes that other health services will join the shared record programme.

Countess of Chester A&E consultant and project chair Steve Moore said the go-live followed years of hard work and engagement with colleagues in primary care.

“Already we are seeing the benefits of being able to access up to date information about our patients, who may be too ill to be able to give accurate details,” he said.

“It’s also been a great time saver, reducing our reliance on less secure and effective means of communication".

Neil Laycock, managing director of EMIS, said this “marks another step forward in the joined up care being offered by clinicians in Cheshire.”

“Secure sharing of vital data among different IT systems across the health service is fundamental to improving efficiency and driving up standards of care,” he added.