Following a successful pilot in north Nottinghamshire, BT Health has launched its managed IT services for GPs, Primary Connect, on a nationwide basis.

The service offers an opportunity to connect through NHSnet, including an infrastructure audit, provision or upgrade of PCs and local area networks, secure connection to NHSnet and the Internet plus provision of the NHS messaging service.

The service is based on standard Microsoft software, but offers additional GP products such as EMIS and In Practice.

GPs will be offered 24-hour service support and flexible financing with project management to allow delivery across primary care groups and trusts, to suit their individual needs.

North Nottinghamshire awarded BT the first major private finance initiative contract of its kind in 1998 to deliver the service, with the aim of ensuring that GPs had a common technological standard and were running the same applications.

Primary Connect is now running on more than 60 practices and hospitals in the health authority. An estimated 95 per cent of all GPs in the area have now been connected to NHSnet, with the remainder due to be linked up by the end of the year.