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GPs deserve GMC censure for lawyer tips

You have reported GPs' concerns about changes to GP IT systems by the National Programme for IT and I would like to clarify the situation.

The programme issued the first of a series of guidance documents last month, which confirmed the important role existing suppliers play in current and future NHS IT service provision and the NPfIT commitment to work with them. However, this document unwittingly caused some confusion and a revised version has now been published on the NPfIT website.

The position of the national programme is that GPs will not be expected to change clinical systems while their current system is compliant with the NHS Care Records Service and while it continues to serve them well.

This was stated in the BMA 'Guidance for GP Practices in relation to the NPfIT' in April 2004. GPs may choose to change clinical systems when a new, functionality-rich and cost-effective system is on offer. In time, in order to lay the foundations for much improved health care across the whole health and social care community, replacement of existing GP clinical systems may be required.

Some GPs believe pressure is currently being placed upon them by their PCTs which are themselves being pressured by their local service providers (LSPs) to move to an LSP application. I would like to give an assurance that LSPs have been informed of the national programme's position that GPs must not be forced to change clinical systems.

We know we have not communicated well with GPs and others in the primary care sector. We are taking steps to improve this with a number of activities this autumn. Meanwhile we hope the revised guidance document will give some comfort to GPs who may have been concerned about their choice of IT system.

James Herbert

Director Communications and Stakeholder Engagement, NPfIT

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