Three CCGs - Halton, Knowsley and St Helens in Cheshire and Merseyside - have commissioned a service from the not-for-profit NHS organisation St Helens and Knowsley Health Informatics Service to digitise, archive and host patient records across 85 practices.
The portal digitally replicates the contents of the paper record and is split into four main chapters which include patient correspondence, continuation cards, results and summary reports.
The Grove House Practice in Runcorn, Halton, which has a list size of 11,000, was the first practice to use the service after it stopped writing into Lloyd George records about 13 years ago.
Its partner Dr David Wilson said he can now access patient information dating back decades, in just seconds from his computer. He said if the practice still had archived paper records, GPs could be left waiting for up to two hours for requested information, if receptionists were busy with other tasks.
Dr Wilson said: ‘The other day, I had a query from a consultant relating to a matter going back 60 years and I was able to access the information straight away.
‘It has freed up 20 sq m in our practice and freed up a clinical room which we had to use for administration purposes. It is a much better working environment.
'Receptionists absolutely love it as they no longer get covered in dust and grime trying to find information which can be requested from consultants or insurance companies.’
The Electronic Lloyd George Records Service (e-LGS) was made available nationwide on 3 April, at a cost of £3 per record to cover a five-year period. This includes digitising patient records for new patients and supplying other practices with records of any of their patients who have moved.
If a practice chooses not to renew the service, it is given the records on a CD to access information from.