The NHS has begun the national roll-out of its GP2GP system, which allows doctors to transfer patient electronic records securely between GP practices.
GP2GP is one of the key computer systems being introduced through the NHS’s £12.4bn National Programme for IT (NPfIT).
More than 650 GP surgeries are already using GP2GP version 1.0, which can be used to transfer records between practice computers running the same clinical systems.
But the new roll-out will use version 1.1 of the application – unveiled in March – which supports “interoperable transfers” between clinical systems from different vendors.
Unlike NPfIT’s Choose and Book hospital appointments booking system, which is struggling to win support from doctors, the GP2GP application has generated enthusiasm among users.
Dr Paul Robinson, co-chair of NPfIT’s Joint GP IT Committee, said: “There are already hundreds of practices experiencing the benefits of GP2GP. It is ensuring that GPs have patients' medical histories available in advance of their first consultation and delivering major time savings for administrative staff.
“GPs have been calling for this functionality for years and we fully support NHS Connecting for Health's plans for an ambitious and comprehensive roll-out.”
Initially, the roll-out will take in practices using the EMIS LV 5.2 and INPS Vision 3 systems. NHS Connecting for Health, which runs NPfIT, said it was working with other suppliers to develop GP2GP functionality for their systems.
GPs using the earlier version of GP2GP will be upgraded to the new version as a priority of the project.
Sandy Scales, NHS Connecting for Health's primary care programme manager, said progress so far was “a great tribute to the willingness of the clinical system suppliers to work both with the project and with each other”, and to many clinicians who had contributed to the project.