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Independents' Day

GP begged GMC to stop him practising

PCTs are delaying plans to move GPs on to new computer systems being developed under the National Programme for IT after identifying 'gaps in functionality'.

At least one trust scheduled to be an 'early adopter' of software from Accenture, a local service provider, has postponed rolling it out to practices from next month because it does not match up to GPs' existing systems.

The news came as the Government admitted the cost of the controversial National Programme for IT could be as much as five times its original £6.2 billion estimate.

The Department of Health conceded the 10-year project could cost £31 billion once running costs are added to initial procurement costs.

Minutes from Amber Valley PCT in Derbyshire reveal the trust believed switching to the new system from next month would be a 'retrograde step'.

It said: 'With GP systems, because the PCT's current systems are good, we have found the Accenture programme would be a retrograde step.

'We obviously do not

want to lose functionality and therefore we are delaying the primary care GP system implementation.'

Doncaster West PCT also found the Accenture system, known as Lorenzo, was 'not as advanced as the EMIS system already in place'.

Almost all GPs in the trust use EMIS. The trust has recommended making no chang-es until at least 2006.

Dr Lis Rodgers, professional executive committee chair, said GPs did not want to be guineapigs by using untested software: 'They are quite a long way off offering access to other health professionals and therefore not as far forward as we are in EMIS,' she said.

'Unless someone can give us an all-singing all-dancing system that works, we would prefer to stay where we are,' she added.

Dr John Williams, joint-chair of the GPC/RCGP IT committee, said he was not surprised PCTs were delaying implementation plans.

He added the rising cost of the National Programme was predictable. 'Many of us have said they haven't factored in training or organisational time.'

By Ian Cameron

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