NHS England has announced plans to spend £230m to improve the quality of GP practices’ IT systems.
The NHS is making the investment to improve patients’ experience of services, encourage integration of care and provide efficiency benefits in the form of reducing paperwork and freeing up more time for patient care.
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The plans were announced in the updated operating model for 2014-16 Securing Excellence in GP IT Services, in which the document said the NHS would need to think differently about the way it provides services in response to the change in patient needs and expectations in an innovative technology landscape.
“To underpin this transformation in service design, we must embed world-class IT across the NHS. This is particularly important in general practice, given its millions of interactions with patients every week and its pivotal role in co-ordinating patient care. In a restrictive financial environment, we must ensure that every pound spent on IT improves patients’ experience of care and, where possible, brings efficiencies across the health and care system.”
Beverley Bryant, director of strategic systems and technology at NHS England, said: “Digital systems are the foundation upon which to build a modern, efficient and responsive health service. Enabling information to flow between care providers and between providers and patients will help achieve a safe, convenient and personalised health service for all.”
The £230m funding for GP practices will be distributed to clinical commissioning groups based on patient population size. There will also be a number of add-on IT services will be tailored and implemented to fit with local service improvement strategies.
The investment will also go towards implementing the integrated digital care records across the NHS to ensure the patient journey between primary care and hospital is seamless because health professionals have access to the necessary information.
Tracey Grainger, programme head of primary care IT at NHS England, said: “These arrangements will continue to give general practice providers a choice of high-quality clinical IT systems that are tailored to local requirements while enabling the flexibility and innovation we recognise the service needs. This is underpinned by an on-going commitment from NHS England to continue to support and encourage the development of a world-class IT infrastructure across health and care.”
But in recent months, NHS England has been put under scrutiny over its Care.data programme which aims to expand its collection of patient data from hospitals to include general practices. But NHS England failed to explain the benefits of using patient information and it has had to put the plans on hold for six months.