GP data system GPES 'flawed, delayed and over budget', audit finds

An IT system that collects data from GP practices is technically flawed, despite coming in three times over budget and four years late, an audit of the GP Extraction Service (GPES) has found.

Dr Vautrey: 'Big IT projects are not only challenging, but don’t deliver what they’re expected to deliver.'
Dr Vautrey: 'Big IT projects are not only challenging, but don’t deliver what they’re expected to deliver.'

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has come under heavy criticism for its delivery of the £40m GP Extraction Service (GPES), which it inherited from the NHS Information Centre in 2013. GPES was designed to ease QOF payments and allow clinical data to be extracted for analysis.

The costs of planning and implementing GPES was originally £14m but rose to £40m, with a further £5.5m of ‘write-offs and delay costs’, a report from the National Audit Office (NAO) has revealed.

The system was intended to allow health organisations such as NICE and the MHRA to request information, but so far only NHS England has received data, the report says.

GPES was meant to be in place by 2010 but was significantly delayed, only coming into use in April last year.

More expenditure will be needed to ‘improve or replace’ the service, the NAO said.

Unacceptable flaws

‘It’s yet another example of how big IT projects are not only challenging, but don’t deliver what they’re expected to deliver,’ Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the GPC, told GPonline.

‘Practices are still having to add things on a manual basis and this is unacceptable. It’s adding extra work to overworked practice managers.’

A statement from HSCIC says that the procurement and design of GPES, which took place before HSCIC was set up, ‘was not good enough’.

HSCIC said its first priority to improve the system was to facilitate QOF payments last April, which were delayed due to data collection problems.

It now has a new team of technical experts in place to ‘stabilise the service’.

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