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At the heart of general practice since 1960

GPs still fear major computer upheaval

The GPC has accused EMIS of 'cynically manipulating' GPs over its refusal to sign contracts with the National Programme for IT.

IT experts also warned that the company had 'shot itself in the foot' by launching a campaign on choice.

But EMIS dismissed the accusations over manipulation as 'outrageous'. It argued it had not signed contracts with local service providers because, after nine months of negotiation, the terms proposed remained too onerous and contained liabilities that its brokers would not insure against.

Dr Gillian Braunold, dep-uty chair of the GPC's IT sub-committee, suggested there may be commercial reasons why EMIS had refused to sign.

'I'm worried a section of the GP community is being cynically manipulated for commercial reasons to make sure EMIS keeps its business.

'Nobody is being asked to change at the moment, EMIS's systems are compliant, and we don't know what will happen in two to three years' time.'

Dr Grant Kelly, a former member of the GPC and previous chair of its IT sub-committee, said a GP appeal to MPs over the EMIS row was likely to be perceived as

'special pleading' for a single company.

'Everybody else has signed contracts,' Dr Kelly said, who now speaks independently on IT issues. 'We have to separate contractual difficulties from the bigger picture. EMIS is having a contractual spat.'

Sean Riddell, deputy managing director of EMIS, said the GPC claims were 'bloody outrageous'. He added: 'Noth- ing could be further from the truth.'

He said he was 'appalled' at the suggestion that EMIS was promoting its commercial interests to the detriment of GPs. He stressed the company continued to work with the NPfIT on Choose and Book, and its products had received QMAS accreditation.

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