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Independents' Day

Computer says No to new QOF indicators

By Ian Cameron and Helen Crump

Delays in updating IT systems to cope with changes to the quality framework are hampering GPs' efforts to tackle the new work.

Thousands of practices are still waiting for software 'patches' which will allow them to enter the Read codes for new disease indicators.

The wait, which affects practices using iSoft/Torex and InPractice Systems software, means GPs are having to manually log new diagnoses.

They then face long hours entering disease codes retrospectively into their computers once the patches have been released.

GPs have warned they could also miss out on quality money because without the update their systems will not prompt them to undertake follow-ups inside the time period required in the QOF.

Depression severity, for example, has to be logged within one month of initial diagnosis. Yet it is already more than a month since the requirement came into being.

A further problem is that the QMAS system will be out of action until the autumn, meaning GPs will not be able to check their progress on the quality framework.

Dr Paul Cundy, chair of the GPC's IT subcommittee, said the delays were an 'irritation' and potentially a significant workload problem, particularly for chronic kidney disease (CKD).

He said: 'Practices should keep paper lists or enter alternative codes and go back [and replace them] when the new codes are uploaded. I'm concerned about the workload on CKD as we are doing dozens every week.'

Dr Cundy said software suppliers were not entirely to blame as Connecting for Health was late in giving them the required business rules.

iSoft said CDs to update its Premier software were issued last week and those for Synergy would be issued in the coming week. InPractice Systems said nearly 250 practices had yet to install updates.

Dr Adrian Jacobs, a member of NHS Employers quality review team, recommended GPs mark in patients' notes when screening was undertaken even if they could not enter the correct code. 'We would want to ensure GP payments are not affected by an inability to enter data.'

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