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GPs could be forced to switch IT systems under new NHS Digital contract

by Carolyn Wickware
17 August 2018

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GP practices may have to switch systems as NHS Digital embarks on a re-tendering process for patient record IT providers.

NHS Digital will launch a tender for a new panel of system providers in January, with the intention to have the new framework in place next summer.

But, in order to secure a spot on the panel, providers will need to show they can provide record systems for ‘multi-disciplinary settings’, and NHS Digital said this ‘may or may not’ be the systems currently used by practices.
Under the current GP Systems of Choice framework, which expires at the end of this year, practices can choose to use TPP SystmOne, EMIS Web, InPS Vision or Microtest Evolution.
GP leaders warned that attempts to overhaul GP IT systems ‘will be a huge undertaking’ and urged NHS Digital to ‘carefully consider the potential impact on practices’.

The current framework, which has been extended several times, has been in place since 2007.

All providers can bid to remain on the updated framework, however NHS Digital said they could lose their spot if they failed or refused to meet ‘new requirements’. 

NHS Digital said the new Digital Care Services framework, worth £450m, aims to support ‘integrated care organisations’. 
According to the prior information notice for the tender process, providers on the framework will be expected to provide ‘patient record systems for multi-disciplinary settings’, which ‘may or may not be general practice (GP) systems as currently accessed within the UK market’. 
Martin Warden, NHS Digital’s director of digital transformation in general practice, said: ‘This is a step-change towards ensuring the continued relevance and resilience of primary care IT systems to meet evolving NHS needs.
‘The new framework will improve access to GP data for patients and the NHS, as well as enabling digitised workflows in and between care settings to support better patient care.’
He added that it will also ‘provide local organisations and other buyers with more choice through an online catalogue service’.
Dr Farah Jameel, BMA GP Committee executive team IT lead, said: ‘Any attempt to completely overhaul GP IT systems will be a huge undertaking, and those responsible must carefully consider the potential
impact on practices and patients.
‘GPs and their teams must be fully consulted on these plans to ensure that they are rolled out with minimal disruption and the best interests of patients and practices as a priority.’
Requirements for NHS Digital’s new IT systems framework

  • Patient record systems for multi-disciplinary settings, which ‘may or may not be GP systems as currently accessed within the UK market’
  • GP systems ‘designed around the operation of a traditional general practice’
  • Digital services ‘integrating into the clinical desktop, such as document management, clinical decision support [and] e-Consultation’
  • Digital support services ‘supporting integrated service delivery’
  • Patient facing services including ‘appointment or practice communication apps’

Source: NHS Digital
This story was first published on our sister publication Pulse.