GP-to-GP data transfer is top of GP wishlist

Half of GPs believe that GP-to-GP transfer of electronic patient records and not the DoH's favoured Choose and Book initiative should be Connecting for Health's number-one priority.

Rather than attempting to deliver the DoH's choice agenda, GPs think that Connecting for Health should focus on something more practical and useful - resolving the technology issues that prevent the transfer of patient records between practices.

About 400 GPs were asked to state which element of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) should be prioritised in a survey by IT system supplier In Practice Systems.

The results, released at the HC2006 conference in Harrogate last week, showed that GPs ranked electronic transfer of patient records far ahead of other issues.

Electronic transfer of prescriptions was the priority for 12.9 per cent, while Choose and Book scored just 4.3 per cent.

The DoH originally pledged that all practices would be able to transfer records electronically by 2004. However, the technology is still being piloted and IT experts do not believe it will be available to all GPs until 2007.

NHS Connecting for Health chief executive Richard Granger admitted that GP-to-GP records transfer had proved much more difficult than expected.

He blamed the variety of 'completely incompatible' IT systems in primary care.

GPC negotiator Dr Richard Vautrey said: 'The ability to transfer patient records electronically is something GPs have wanted for years.

'It would make a huge difference to workload. Taking the information in a record, stuffing it into an envelope and having to re-enter it manually is nonsense.'

Meanwhile, the survey also found that one GP in three believed that practice-based commissioning would have a nega- tive effect on practice finances.

Dr Vautrey agreed that, in many areas, too little money was available for practice-based commissioning.

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