Is a choice of systems for GPs a good thing?

This is one of a series on this blog of some of more memorable comments made by witnesses and MPs at an inquiry into the National Programme for IT [NPfIT] by the Health Committee of the House of Commons.

The witnesses at the first hearing on 26 April 2007 were:

– Richard Granger, Director General of IT for the NHS and head of the NPfIT

– Harry Cayton, National Director for Patients and the Public, Department of Health

– Dr Gillian Braunold, a GP and National Clinical Lead for GPs, Connecting for Health.

Martyn Thomas, visiting Professor of Software Engineering, University of Oxford,

Dr Paul Cundy, Chair, General Practitioners’ Joint IT Committee

Andrew Hawker, NHS Patient

A list of who is on the committee is at the end of this article.

At the Health Committee hearing Dr Paul Cundy was asked by David Amess MP: “Dr Cundy, is it a good thing that general practitioners will be offered a choice of suppliers for their electronic record system and does the decision to offer choice represent a change of direction by Connecting for Health and will it mean a less centralising approach to these issues?

Dr Cundy’s reply pointed out that GPs should have been offered choice more than three years ago. He said that deals were signed with NPfIT local service providers in 2003 and early 2004 without taking into account contracts that had been negotiated between the government and GPs.

“It is not a good thing because it is illustrating the precise point I was making earlier. Our new contracts specify that GPs would have a choice of system from a list of accredited systems. That was negotiated between 2002, signed off in 2003.

“In 2003 [Connecting for Health which runs the NPfIT] signed contracts with the local service providers but the [local service provider] contracts did not have GP choice in them.

“It has taken us three years to get to the stage where we are now, where we are about to let the contracts with the GP suppliers that will give us what should have been delivered in our new contract of 2003.

“From that point of view it is a very good thing, because it is what the Government is delivering on what it committed to three years ago, but from the point of view is it a good thing as a result of the programme? No, it is not, it has been held back three years by the programme.”


GP systems of choice

Doctors get a Hobson’s Choice


Membership of the House of Commons’ Health Committee

Kevin Barron, Labour, Rother Valley – Chairman

Mr David Amess, Conservative, Southend West

Charlotte Atkins, Labour, Staffordshire Moorlands

Mr Ronnie Campbell, Labour, Blyth Valley

Jim Dowd, Labour, Lewisham West

Sandra Gidley, Liberal Democrat, Romsey

Stewart Jackson, Conservative, Peterborough

Dr Doug Naysmith, Labour/Co-operative, Bristol North West

Mike Penning, Conservative, Hemel Hempstead

Dr Howard Stoate, Labour, Dartford

Dr Richard Taylor, Independent, Wyre Forest