The NHS Information Authority has set up a training and support service aimed at general practices.
The authority, set up last year to help local health trusts implement the NHS information strategy, is providing the service to improve the standardisation of electronic patient records.
Known as PRIMIS (Primary Care Information Services), the initiative will provide direct training and assistance to local information facilitators within primary care groups and trusts. The facilitators will then cascade their knowledge down to GPs and practice staff, the authority said.
Sheila Teasdale, service director at PRIMIS, said, "There are a lot of facilities on clinical computer systems that many GPs are not aware of. However, many depend on the accurate recording of data and use of clinical terms."
Nigel Watson, deputy chairman of information management and technology at the British Medical Association, said GPs had often been entering clinical conditions as text rather than using agreed codes, making it difficult to transfer records across systems.
Watson expressed concern about the usefulness of an independent training service that reported to NHS management and expressed doubts as to whether GPs would actually receive training from local information facilitators.