GPs to have greater choice of clinical system

Plans to replace regional contracts for the supply of practice IT systems with a range of national deals for England could boost choice, according to a senior GP IT expert.

However, GPs say draft wording of the deals is ‘unacceptable’ because they allow PCTs to cancel contracts with suppliers without consulting practices that use those IT systems.

Under the national programme for IT, England is split into five regions, each overseen by an LSP.

Until earlier this year it appeared that the national IT programme would force practices to choose an IT system from a limited range of providers holding a contract with their LSP. But in March, Connecting for Health announced that GPs would be able to choose any system contracted to any of the five LSPs by April 2007.

The move allayed fears that the more than 50 per cent of practices in England that use the EMIS system could be forced to abandon it, because EMIS simultaneously signed a supply contract with CSC, the LSP for the North West and West Midlands.

But a Connecting for Health spokesman said last week: ‘In order to keep the exercise of choice simple, and to ensure value for money, it is intended to replace the numerous different contracting mechanisms that are currently used with a framework contract between the DoH and suppliers.’

Dr Paul Cundy, chairman of the joint GPC and RCGP IT committee said: ‘GPs will be able to choose the system they want from a central list.’

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