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GP clinical systems agreement delayed

Uncertainty over the national contract for GPs clinical systems looks set to continue until the end of the year, after the NHS Commissioning Board admitted the deadline had slipped.

The current GP Systems of Choice (GPSoC) contract, a national framework used by 80% of GP practices for funding for one of the eight approved software suppliers, is due to expire in March this year, but the Board said it would extended until the end of 2013.

Last year the Government announced that responsibility for hardware and networks, IT support and training will go to CCGs, but GPSoC will be funded and managed at a national level by the Board.

The Board said that they are making progress with both an interim contract for after March 31, but the new framework would not be ready until the end of 2013, subject to approval from the Department of Health, the Cabinet Office and the Treasury.

A spokesperson from the NHS Commissioning Board, said: ‘We have been consulting widely with our stakeholders on the contracting arrangements to support the delivery of GP clinical IT systems after 31 March 2013.

‘We are progressing both an extension to the current GPSoC arrangements from the end of March 2013, and for a new GPSoC framework by the end of 2013.’

Dr Brian Fisher, a GP in Lewisham, said the delay was irritating, but he hoped it meant the Board was being thorough.

He said: ‘It’s very frustrating. But it’s better that they take time and get it right than leave us with an inadequate contract that’s not fit for purpose.

‘There are many corners of GP IT that are difficult and need a lot of thought. Patients having access to record is very complicated. Changes like this across the NHS are very difficult.

He added that GPs should not worry about instability in the meantime: ‘There will be business continuity I’m sure. And then we will get a better contract at the end of it.’

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