GPC urges renewal of practice IT deal

End of deal offering choice of IT systems could wreak havoc during reforms.

A deal that offers GPs in England a choice of practice IT systems must be renewed urgently to avoid confusion as PCT duties shift to consortia, the GPC has warned.

The GP Systems of Choice (GPSoC) deal, under which more than 7,000 practices in England receive IT support, is due to expire later this year.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the GPC would like to see the contract renewed, as 'GPs need the security and stability of GPSoC'.

He said the GPC was in talks with the government about the future of the deal.

Ewan Davies, an independent healthcare IT consultant, said the GPSoC contract would run out 'rather sooner than desirable'. He said: 'The only people who can contract to extend GPSoC are either the centre or individual PCTs doing it on an individual basis. But PCTs are already in the role of turkeys organising Christmas, so it is not the best time to give them responsibility for this. PCTs have already got enough to deal with.'

Mr Davies said if GPSoC was extended or another national framework put in place instead this would ease strain on PCTs.

Meanwhile, NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson has urged PCTs to clarify how services SHAs and PCTs provide under the National Programme for IT will be maintained during NHS reforms.

Dr Nagpaul said it was important that GPSoC continuity is maintained as PCTs cluster and lose staff. 'We need clarity as to exactly where responsibility for GPSoC lies,' he said.

'We need to ensure that in this transition the core arrangements for GPSoC are being implemented.'

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