National plan may replace Emis system, GPs warned

More than 100,000 users of the Emis medical system - including 55% of GPs in England - are being urged to campaign against what...

More than 100,000 users of the Emis medical system - including 55% of GPs in England - are being urged to campaign against what some doctors see as a government plan to force them to replace core software.

Manpreet Pujara, head of the Emis User Group, last week wrote to more than 5,000 GPs' practices, criticising aspects of the £2.3bn national programme for IT in the NHS. He warned that doctors may have to replace their proven Emis systems unnecessarily with new systems from local service providers.

Pujara is concerned that Emis software, which is used by doctors to store 33 million patient records, is not being offered by local service providers that are delivering new systems.

In a strategy document published this month, health officials, in the name of standardisation, said two core clinical systems will "ultimately replace existing NHS clinical systems" within "two to five years".

In his letter to GPs, Pujara said that, despite overwhelming evidence that UK GP computing is a world leader, the NPfIT is "intent on standardising NHS IT, not by encouraging innovation and competition, but by monopolising the marketplace."

He warned that poorly managed upgrades and data conversions could "result in disaster" and said the taxpayer may end up spending millions of pounds on unnecessary system changes.

His letter said, "Many GPs have invested a great deal of time and money in their IT systems. However, this personal investment is not recognised by the NPfIT."

Pujara wants Emis users to lobby MPs and to remind their primary care trusts, which control the budgets for GPs, that the government has promised a choice of systems.

A spokesman for the NPfIT said, "All GPs will be offered a choice of IT system to access the NHS Care Records Service. However, in the long term it is expected that the majority of the plethora of existing systems will have to be replaced or integrated.

"It is likely that due to the large number of existing systems, some will not be integrated."

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