News on secure records transfer, electronic prescriptions and VOIP phone calls

National rollout for secure records transfer

Connecting for Health has started the national roll-out of GP2GP, the software that allows electronic records to be transferred securely between GP practices.

The first stage involves practices using Emis LV5.2 and INPS Vision 3, with further suppliers to be included at a later date.

Dr Paul Robinson, co-chair of the joint GP IT committee, said: 'GPs have been calling for this functionality for years. GP2GP ensures GPs have patients' medical histories before their first consultation and delivers major time savings for administrative staff.'

CfH has also announced that five primary care trusts have been selected as 'initial implementers' of release 2 of the electronic prescriptions services, with a further 12 to go live not later than January.

Two-phase introduction for electronic prescriptions

The electronic transmission of prescriptions is being introduced in two phases. The first introduces the infrastructure and the second allows patients to 'nominate' a pharmacy to which their prescription can be sent automatically, reducing the need to re-key information and making it easier to manage repeat prescriptions. The initial implementers are: Berkshire East, Leicestershire County and Rutland, Liverpool, Southwark and Sunderland primary care trusts.

NHS broadband network N3 geared up for VOIP phone calls

BT has announced that N3, the NHS broadband network, is now enabled to carry telephone calls using voice over internet protocol (VOIP) technology.

As a result, it is offering two new services to trusts. The first is the local gateway service, which should deliver savings on fixed line and mobile calls to trusts. The second is 'hosted voice', which will take over telephony services for smaller and medium-sized users.

Connecting for Health has paid for the upgrade, but trusts and other organisations will have to pay set-up fees and rental charges.

iSoft sells national IT programme business

One of the national programme's key software suppliers, iSoft, has accepted a cash bid of£166m from IBA.

This has trumped an offer by Compugroup, who confirmed they will not be increasing their bid. Compugroup management board chair Frank Gotthardt said: 'We do not intend to enter a contest that would lead to unreasonable prices and risks.