GPC wants preferred list of IT systems

GPs should be able to choose IT systems from a nationally accredited list after the National Programme for IT is axed, the GPC has said.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul: 'There still needs to be some central accountability to ensure consistent delivery'

The DoH announced last week that the programme will be replaced by local systems, although national infrastructure will be retained for some applications. These include Choose and Book, the Electronic Prescription Service and the Picture Archiving and Communications System.

GPC negotiator and IT lead Dr Chaand Nagpaul said that giving NHS organisations more choice of IT systems made sense, but a more localised approach could lead to problems.

'There still needs to be some central accountability to ensure consistent and equitable delivery, manage local implementation, avoid wasteful duplication of effort, and support local decision-making,' he said.

'For example, a nationally accredited list of systems would be helpful.'

Ewan Davis, health informatics expert at the British Computer Society and former member of the joint BMA/RCGP IT committee, expected GP consortia to take on PCTs' IT responsibilities, and warned this could lead to disputes.

'The majority of GPs will be pleased that the decisions are back in their hands, rather than the PCTs,' he said. But he warned: 'I think there will be pressure in some commissioning groups to standardise to one system. We will see different responses in different areas.'

Health minister Simon Burns said the changes made practical and financial sense. 'Moving IT systems closer to the front line will release £700 million in savings,' he said. 'Every penny saved in productivity gains will be reinvested to improve patient care.'

But the NHS Confederation warned that removing parts of the national programme could shift costs onto local providers.

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