Accident and emergency clinicians in Bristol are able to view the records of 500,000 patients, thanks to an information sharing agreement with 50 local practices.

The Patient Record Network enables A&E doctors to view records with Emis’ EPR Viewer, which makes key information from the GP record available to other clinicians.

Previously, they phoned or faxed practices for information. The new initiative is the result of a collaboration between GP Care, an organisation set up by Bristol GPs, and acute hospital trusts serving South Gloucestershire, Bristol and North Somerset.

Roger Tweedale, chief executive of GP Care, said information sharing between primary and secondary care "was top of our wish list" and the new set-up had "slashed admin time" while making sure that "treatment can be administered quickly, safely and far more efficiently."

The PRN has been set up with a security and governance framework in place that gives patients and GPs control over who accesses patient records and that meets the requirements of the Data Protection Act.

GP practices – which all use Emis Web – have ‘real time’ control over which organsiations can access their patients’ records, while patients provide explicit consent at the point of care, before other clinicans access their records.

GP Care can monitor use of the system, using Emis Web audit trail functionality and random testing. The system also gives clinicians differential access to information, so that ward pharmacists can only access medication records, while consultants can see the full patient history.

GP Care is also working to support further integration of primary and secondary care in the Bristol area.