Half of GP practices in Wales face IT system switch

Half of GP practices in Wales will be forced to switch IT systems over the next two years after a leading provider was excluded from a revamped primary care deal agreed by the health service.

EMIS - a leading IT provider whose system is used by 195 practices in Wales - has not been chosen among preferred providers in an NHS procurement process. The firm missed out because its bid failed to 'meet a number of the necessary evaluation criteria relating to financial, contractual and functional requirements', according to NHS Wales.

The company confirmed that following the decision, users of its EMIS Web service would be 'transitioned to a new provider via a phased process throughout 2019 and 2020'. EMIS users in Wales represent almost half of the total 441 GP practices in the country.

RCGP Wales chair Dr Rebecca Payne warned on Twitter that older GPs were ready to quit rather than take on the strain of moving to new IT systems.

The BMA, however, said that although it recognised the problems that a switch would impose on GP practices, it 'ultimately agreed with the decision'.

GPC Wales chair Dr David Bailey said: ‘GPC Wales has been fully engaged with NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS) throughout the procurement process and consistently highlighted the problems that changing providers would cause practices currently using EMIS.

Disruption for practices

'However, GPC Wales ultimately agreed with the decision to end the contract with EMIS due to the large number of criteria that they were unwilling to meet. The changes EMIS wanted to implement would have put practices at unacceptable risk of disruption, and included no levers to protect practices operationally if the system were to collapse.'

He said that GPs had been promised funding to support them during the migration and minimise disruption.

A statement from EMIS said: 'EMIS Group plc has received confirmation from NHS Wales that it has not been chosen as a preferred vendor for the next primary care framework agreement in Wales, following a planned procurement review process which began during the first quarter of 2017.

'This decision will require that EMIS Web users in Wales are transitioned to a new provider via a phased process throughout 2019 and 2020, to be agreed with NHS Wales.'

Contract

A spokeswoman told GPonline: 'We have not yet received specific feedback from NHS Wales on their decision, however we will listen closely to what they have to say and implement any changes to our product and services that are required.'

An NWIS spokeswoman said: 'It is the intention to award the contract for GP clinical systems and services to two suppliers - Vision Health Ltd and Microtest Ltd. Both suppliers demonstrated a strong commitment and ability to meet core clinical and technical requirements and the wider primary care agenda, as well as further integration with the NHS Wales’ digital services platform.

'A third tender, submitted by EMIS Health Ltd, did not meet a number of the necessary evaluation criteria relating to the financial, contractual and functional requirements.

'As part of the OJEU procurement process, we are now in a 10-day standstill period following notification to the suppliers. Further information about the contract will be available at the end of this period.'

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