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GPs win battle for IT systems of choice

Antony Savvas

The government has announced that GPs will have a wider choice of computer systems as part of the National Programme for IT, after complaints about restricted choice among GPs.

GPs will now have the option of using a wider variety of systems, provided the system supplier has signed a distribution contract with one of the government’s five local service providers.

Eligible suppliers will now include Emis, which has recently signed a contract with CSC, the local service provider for the North West and Midlands.

Emis had complained bitterly to the government about being excluded from the GP part of the National Programme, even though it was already a well established provider of computer systems to GPs.

Emis was backed by the Emis user group, which represents 5,500 GP practices. GPs were concerned about having to unnecessarily learn to use and integrate different computer systems if Emis was excluded.

Health minister John Hutton said, "Throughout the development of new IT systems for the NHS we have listened carefully to what front-line clinicians want from them. GPs have told us they want a wider choice of systems to use and I am pleased we can deliver this."

Additional suppliers’ GP systems will now be offered to practices nationwide providing they can meet three requirements: they have a contract with a local service provider; can demonstrate the required level of interoperability with NPfIT systems; and can make a sound business case.

The systems will also have to be hosted in a datacentre to facilitate nationwide services such as GP-to-GP data transfer, electronic transmission of prescriptions and Choose and Book electronic appointment booking.

The four local service providers that cover five areas are CSC, Accenture, Capital Care Alliance led by BT and Fujitsu Alliance.


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