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Future of GPs' system still unclear

Lindsay Clarke
Uncertainty continues to surround the future of core software used by more than half of England's GP surgeries, despite an attempt by the national programme for IT in the NHS to clarify its plans.

The NPfIT has issued updated guidance on the provision of GP systems after the user group for Emis software expressed concern that none of the national programme's local service providers (LSPs) would offer their choice of system.

Manpreet Pujara, chairman of the Emis National User Group, said, "The guidance is still vague and does not answer some fundamental questions."

Although the new guidance said LSPs were obliged to offer one main GP system plus another alternative, this could mean that Emis would be excluded.

In January, Emis announced that it was unable to sign contracts in their then current form with any LSPs appointed to deliver the NPfIT. Emis said it had been required to accept uninsurable risks and indeterminate penalties, triggered by circumstances outside its control.

The company said it was very supportive of the NPfIT but could not sign LSP sub-contracts that were untenable.

Pujara said, "The Emis National User Group wants the NPfIT to succeed, but we also want it to leave us alone. We want an open market for GP systems and the use of standards to ensure interoperability."

A spokeswoman for the NPfIT said LSPs were responsible for deciding which systems they supported, although the programme would work with the BMA's GPs Committee IT subcommittee.

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