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NHS Digital launches GP IT Futures tender

New framework aims to simplify IT provision for surgeries and create a competitive systems marketplace for primary care

NHS Digital has issued a £500m tender for suppliers to deliver under its new IT systems framework for primary care, GP IT Futures.

The new framework will replace the current GP System of Choice (GPSoC), aiming to create a competitive market for IT systems aimed at surgeries.

The outgoing GPSoC features only four suppliers – INPS, Microtest, Emis and TPP – with the latter two covering a large majority of the market.

Speaking at the King’s Fund Digital Health and Care Congress on 24 May, health secretary Matt Hancock said the new arrangement will make it “as easy for a GP surgery to switch IT provider as it is for a small business to switch bank accounts”.

Under the new framework – to be enforced from January under an “iterative process” – providers will need to follow standards around interoperability and data access.

Hancock said patient data should be hosted in the cloud and accessible across the health system, “just as it is possible to get emails from any device”.

“Sick patients should not have to explain ‘why are you here?’ for the umpteenth time every time they meet a new clinician, or cart round bulging folders of notes from appointment to appointment,” he said.

The All systems GP manifesto launched by the Royal College of GPs earlier this month estimates that up to 80% of GP practices could be using outdated systems that are incompatible with Hancock’s digital ambitions.

The manifesto called for an IT overhaul at GP practices, with digitally enabled, connected premises with interoperable systems, and access to a single electronic patient records platform.

Also on 24 May, Hancock announced the roll-out of fibre-optic broadband across all hospitals and GP practices as part of pledges made in the NHS Long Term Plan to improve the range and access of digital healthcare services.

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