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Failing GPASS is on its way out

Scottish GPs to get new practice software as damning report backs long-standing complaints about GPASS

GPs in Scotland are to get new practice software over the next three years after a damning report signalled the end for the failing GPASS system.

The report commissioned by the Scottish Executive recommended it stop all investment in GPASS from 2009 because the software 'does not meet current clinical requirements'.

Instead, the executive should procure one or two commercial systems to be implemented across local areas, the re-port by consultants Deloitte concluded.

GPASS was not set up to deal with new requirements for GP software to include data sharing across the primary care team and the wider NHS and it would cost too much to reconfigure it, it added.

The findings back complaints from GPs about GPASS dating back to 2002.

GPs were often unable to access their systems or found they ran too slowly. One fault involving text being randomly transferred to other records posed a patient safety risk.

Tayside and Grampian NHS Boards have already said they will support GPs wanting to use an alternative system. Both boards have chosen Vision.

Paul Gray, director of primary care and community care for the Scottish Executive, which has invested £21m on the latest version of GPASS, said there would be a competitive tender between suppliers. More than one system would be procured, he added, to ensure GPs had a choice.

He said: 'GPASS will not be switched off, and support (including enhancements of QOF and DES) will be maintained up to and including managed migration to systems which support the extended primary care team.

'In the meantime, no health board is to enter into a commercial agreement committing it to a primary care IT supplier for more than three years.'

Dr Stuart Scott, Scottish GPC deputy chair and IT lead, said he supported the report's recommendations and proposed timescale. He said: 'Given over 800 practices are still on GPASS, I don't think the commercial suppliers would be able to migrate people any quicker.'

Dr Scott said practices should be offered a choice of at least two suppliers.

'I think it is going to come down to Vision and EMIS covering Scotland between them.'

Dr Andrew McElhinney, a GP in Denny, Stirlingshire, and former chair of the GPASS user group, predicted it would take longer than three years to replace GPASS.

'In the interim it is vital GPASS is supported properly and invested in so that practices who need to use it have a reasonable system.'

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