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GPs go forth

GPASS here to stay, Scots GPs told

The much-maligned GPASS clinical software is to be used as the basis for a national electronic patient record in Scotland.

In an exclusive interview with Pulse, Scottish health minister Andy Kerr said that despite GPs' concerns over the system, it would be 'central' to the development of the record.

The news comes amid a growing backlash among GPs against GPASS, with more than a quarter of the 850 practices using it having submitted plans to NHS boards to switch to alternative software.

GPs have grown increasingly frustrated with bugs in the software which have reduced practices' efficiency and potentially put patient safety at risk.

Mr Kerr said he recognised GPs' frustrations, but GPASS would be 'an incredibly important part' of IT developments in Scotland. He said: 'GPASS will be central. We've got an A&E system, GPASS, PACS ­ the picture and archiving system ­ and other good systems working and the challenge is joining all those up effectively.

Mr Kerr added: 'I would re-cognise and share some of [GPs] frustrations. If you're not happy with it ­ yeah make noise about it. I'm not being complacent, we need to deal with these issues.'

The new version of GPASS was doing a 'much better job' in testing, Mr Kerr said, adding that problems were often down to infrastructure.

He added: 'On the point of clinical safety ­ any time we have had issues of clinical safety within GPASS they have sought to resolve them quickly.'

But GPs said the minister was being overly optimistic in expecting problems with it to be solved. Just 21 practices are using the new version of GPASS.

Dr Andrew McElhinney, a GP in Denny, Stirlingshire, and chair of the GPASS users group, said: 'GPASS is seen as hindering general practice. There is a major gap between what is hoped for the future and the reality.'

Dr David Love, joint chair of Scottish GPC, said GPs would have reservations about the ability of GPASS to deliver 'such an ambitious project'.

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