Greater choice for IT system change

Connecting for Health has increased financial support for practices that change to new IT systems, but GPs say funding is still inadequate.

The agency also revealed that only two of 11 system suppliers working with the national programme for IT had products that complied with all components of the IT directed enhanced service. Connecting for Health last week issued a revised version of ‘GP Systems of Choice’, a framework for practices to choose and upgrade IT systems. A first draft of the plans, released in March, offered to pay for moves to new IT systems only if practices switched to preferred systems contracted to local service providers. It also covered upgrades to the existing system.

The revised plan keeps these options, but Connecting for Health also offers a fixed payment towards the cost of moving to non LSP-preferred systems.

However, this payment is only available for switching to a remotely-hosted IT system, which holds patient data outside the GP practice. There is no detail about how much the payment is worth.

Dr Manpreet Pujara, user group chairman for the EMIS IT system, said: ‘They should be fully funding system changes. As for the fixed contribution, it doesn’t say how much it is or whether it is a percentage — we are left guessing.’

Joint GP clinical lead for Connecting for Health Dr Gillian Braunold said the fixed payment was introduced to stop ‘gaming’ by suppliers.

‘This is about getting suppliers to work through their costing structures and stop them putting unrelated costs into the migration fees,’ she said.

But Dr Pujara said the payment system was ‘not a level playing field’. He said: ‘We need genuine systems choice so practices can choose on the basis of which system offers the best quality for patient care. This should not be a financial decision.’

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